About this Show

U.S. Senate

News/Business.

NETWORK

DURATION
05:00:00

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 17 (141 MHz)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Us 57, Manchin 17, America 16, Toomey 15, Mr. Leahy 14, Boston 13, Mr. Manchin 13, Daniel 8, Mr. Schumer 8, Massachusetts 8, Collins 7, Mr. Grassley 7, Newtown 7, Connecticut 7, Chicago 6, Iowa 6, Wyoming 6, Virginia 6, Tucson 6, United States Senate 6,
Borrow a DVD
of this show
  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    April 17, 2013
    12:00 - 5:00pm EDT  

12:00pm
quorum call:
12:01pm
12:02pm
12:03pm
12:04pm
12:05pm
12:06pm
12:07pm
12:08pm
ms. gillibrand: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. ms. gillibrand: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we are. ms. gillibrand: i move we vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. gillibrand: i rise today to urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join a strong
12:09pm
bipartisan coalition that is taking real action to end senseless, deadly gun violence with truly commonsense reforms that have nothing to do with infringing our second amendment rights and the second amendment rights of our law-abiding law-ag citizens. we have seen the newtown parents here in washington bravely telling their stories. they deserve better than this body turning their backs on them. the families of aurora deserve better than this body turning their backs on them. the families of more than 30 people who die every single day at the hands of gun violence deserve more from this body. my friends, it is simply time to act. today is the day for this body to show the american people that their voices matter. that when 90% of americans demand us to expand background checks, that we can deliver.
12:10pm
we should be able to agree today that we no longer need military-style weapons and ammunition clips on our streets. and we should be able to agree today that it's time to crack down on the illegal handguns being trafficked in our streets into the hands of criminals. four years ago, i met the parents of naisha pryor yard. naisha was a beautiful 17-year-old honor student killed in the prime of her life by an illegal handgun when she was just spending time with her friends. i vowed to naisha's parents and classmates that i would stop the flow of illegal guns that make their way onto our streets and into the hands of criminals by finally making gun trafficking a federal crime and holding offenders accountable with stiff
12:11pm
penalties. we have the opportunity today to give law enforcement the tools and resources they need and have long asked for. this is not a republican or a democratic idea. it's just a smart idea, and it's the action that naisha's parents deserve from us. according to the new york city americorps' office, 85% of the guns used in crimes come from out of state. 90% of those guns are illegal. they are illegally trafficked into our city and state. all of the laws we have on the books today effectively none of them are directly focused on preventing someone from driving from one state to another with stricter gun laws, parking in their car in a parking lot and selling hundreds of firearms dwell into the hands of criminals. it's shocking to me as a mother and as a lawmaker.
12:12pm
instead, prosecutors primarily rely on laws that are prohibiting making false statements in connection with the purchase of a firearm. these are paperwork violations with penalties too low to be effective law enforcement tools. over the past three fiscal years, more than 330,000 guns used in violent crimes show telltale signs of black market trafficking. 420,000 firearms were stolen and thousands of guns with obliterated serial numbers were recovered by law enforcement. so while law enforcement is working overtime to track down illegal guns and apprehend those who traffic these weapons, current law restricts their ability to investigate and prosecute these crimes. now, we can all agree this simply makes no sense and leaves all of our communities vulnerable. all across this country in small towns and big cities, families
12:13pm
are saying enough is enough. it's time to get serious and do something to prevent the next tragedy. now we can. our bipartisan stop illegal trafficking firearms act would empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers, straw purchasers and their entire criminal networks. this bill is not everything that i wanted. -- that i wanted when i set out on this mission in 2009, but it is a good bipartisan compromise, and it's a compromise that i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support. because if you do, we can stop the illegal flow of guns that are coming into our city neighborhoods and reduce gun violence and reduce senseless gun death. law enforcement officials across the country need this legislation to protect our
12:14pm
communities from illegal weapons, and if you are a responsible law-abiding gun owner watching this, you should support this legislation, too. and i could tell you my friends who are second amendment supporters and are gun owners and are hunters, they support this commonsense legislation. so i'm urging all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us. stand with families in our communities all across the country who are looking to us to take action, to prevent the next senseless tragedy, to prevent the next death, the next naisha pryor yard. i urge you to stand with the brave men and women of our law enforcement at every level who are asking us to take these critical commonsense measures needed so that they can do a better job for us and to keep our families safer. i yield the floor.
12:15pm
mr. blumenthal: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. as we close this debate on this historic bill, i urge my colleagues to again heed and hear the families of newtown. they are here talking about not only the horror and unspeakable and unimaginable tragedy that befell them on december 14, just four months ago, but to speak
12:16pm
also for the 3,400 or more who have perished since as a result of gun violence, the thousands more who will die needlessly if we fail to take action, and the many, many others who have died tragically as a result of gun violence. newtown shook america. it shocked and changed our country. we owe it to the families and we owe it to ourselves to heed and hear their message. we need to do something about the guns. that is what they told me again and again and again in newtown and in connecticut and across the country. and those families have come here mustering their courage and strength, showing us what is great about america, the grit
12:17pm
and greatness of our nation. in that time period, there were many bracelets and i was handed one that i have worn since and it says, "we choose love." "we are newtown; we choose love." and that is what we should do today. those 20 beautiful children and six great educators whose pictures have been before us day after day after day, their images have been before america week after week during these four months. for them, we are all newtown and let us choose love. they are not the first t to perh in a mass killing well-known to america and their names are now engraved in our memories so that
12:18pm
we merely need to say them to evoke the grief and tears -- aurora, tucson, virginia tech. all of those names and others. they are likely not to be the last, and nothing we are doing here will end entirely the plague of gun violence. we will not solve the whole problem because there is no single solution or even necessarily a set of solutions that we're debating today that will end all the tragic bloodshed. but we can save lives. we can make a start. we can literally stop a major part of it with commonsense measures that evoke common ground. with a background check system, we can stop criminals and felon,
12:19pm
dangerously mentally ill, domestic abusers and others who should not have gun from buying firearms and using them as weapons of war. we can, with a ban on illegal trafficking, stop felons and other criminals from trading and transporting guns across state lines, making a mockery of strong state laws, like connecticut's, that protect its people and stop them from making straw purchases. with measures on school safety, we can secure those educational institutions that have proven as a rule early in again and again. the campus safety enhancement act will help us do it, and we can make our children less vulnerable. with than assault weapon ban, we can begin to reduce and
12:20pm
eventually end the flow of these military-style assault weapons designed to kill and maim human beings. and with a ban on high-capacity magazines that i will offer through amendment 714, we can make killers less lethal, stop them from killing as rapidly and numerously their victims. we can gain time in those situations of mass killings, where a few seconds can actually save lives. with these measures and others that will be offered here today on mental health, for example, we can choose love, we can choose to make something positive of that unspeakable and horrific tragedy that befell new down and that has befallen many, many others before and since. we can do something. we can take action. on the universal background
12:21pm
check that my colleague, senator manchin, has spoken about just a short time ago and that he has authored with senator toomey, we can choose a bipartisan commonsense measure. not everything that i would hope be in a background check measure but a genuinely important improvement on current law. we know background checks have worked on the 60% of sales where they've been applied because they've stopped about 2 million felons and other dangerous people who are prohibited by law from buying weapons to actually go into stores and purchase them. now, i understand the argument that we need more prosecutions and existing laws need to be enforced more vigorously, and as a prosecutor i'm very sympathetic toward that argume argument, and i will support
12:22pm
zealously more resources and even better management to result in more prosecutions. we need to enforce existing laws more effectively, but that goal should not stop us from improving those laws, especially when law enforcement itself, our police and prosecutors at every level -- state, federal, local -- urge us to improve those laws to enable them to prosecute more of the dangerous people who use guns for evil purposes. we ought to listen to those law enforcement officers, as i have done for decades as a united states attorney and as the state attorney general for 20 years. and i'm listening to them now when they say to me, we need a universal background check system, we need to make our laws more effective against assault weapons and high-capacity
12:23pm
magazines, as well as on school security and illegal trafficki trafficking. 90% of the public -- 90% of everyone in this nation -- support this commonsense measu measure. 74% of members of the n.r.a. this issue is not about the n.r.a. or any special interests, although they have maintained a stranglehold over this kind of legislation for a decade, maybe a generation. it is about a bipartisan compromise forged out of a clear need for rational, sensible action that we have an obligation now to adopt. nobody wants to take away guns. nobody wants to take away righ rights. the second amendment guarantees the right to possess firearms. but some firearms should not be possessed and some people should not possess any firearms, and that is what brings us to this
12:24pm
point, this historic point, in a debate that should evoke bipartisan support. and i hope that members on the other side of the aisle who are still in doubt will come to support this measure. we need only a few votes. we have the vast majority of democrats. i salute senators mccain, kirk, collins and others on both sides of the aisle who have made difficult decisions. but if this decision has seemed difficult to them and to many others, think of how difficult it has been for the newtown families to come here and share their grief and pain with us. and they support high-capacity magazines because they know from their experience how lethal high-capacity magazines make any firearm even more lethal than
12:25pm
they would be otherwise. i want to salute my colleague, frank lautenberg, who has been a champion of this cause for some time, as well as senator feinstein, cho include, who incn high-capacity magazines in her bill, which is before us now, and my colleague, senator murphy, who has been a partner in this effort. and he and i have listened to the families of newtown when they have told us why they support a ban on high-capacity magazines, which is supported by 65% of all americans and 55% of gun owners. it is supported by groups across the board, from law enforcement to health care, gun safety, child health and education, religious groups, and, for the record, i wish to submit a list,
12:26pm
madam president, if there is no objection. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: we have listened to the families of newtown who talk about high-capacity magazines. bill sherlock, for example, who was the husband of mary sherlock. you've seen her picture here. he had this to say about high-capacity magazines -- quote -- "it's just simple arithmetic. if you have to change magazines 15 times instead of five times, you have three times as many incidents as where something could jam, something could be boggled. you just increase the time for intervention. you increase the time frame where kids can get out. and there's 11 kids out there today that are still running around on the playground pretty much now at lunch time," he sa said, because of the shooter there needing to change magazines. another sandy hook family member, nicole hockley, the mother of dillon hockley, said
12:27pm
the following -- quote -- "we looked at the search warrants and know that the shooter left the smaller-capacity magazines at home. that was a choice he made. he knew that the larger-capacity magazine clips were more letha lethal." david wheeler, the father of benjamin andrew wheel,s the following -- quote -- "the more bullets you can get at the end of a gun in the least amount of time, that is the single area that i believe affects lethality. and the size of the magazine placed in that weapon is a direct contributor to that, a direct contributor to that factor. there is a place for 30-round magazines in the military on the battlefield." the families of newtown have spoken clearly and powerfully. but the facts of other shootings support the ban on high-capacity magazines again and again and again.
12:28pm
in tucson, arizona, for example, jared lochner emptied a 33-round magazine in 19 seconds, killing six and injuring 13, before stopping to replace his magazi magazine. and when he went to reload, a bystander tackled him. others joined in subduing and disarming him. he was stopped because he had to pause to reload. his 13th round killed 19-year-old christina taylor greene. if he been limited to a magazine with ten rounds, that little girl very likely would still be alive today. if lanza had been limited to a 10-round magazine, beautiful girls and boys might well be alive today. newtown and tucson are only two instances in which a shooter was
12:29pm
stopped when he had to reload or when his firearm ran out of ammunition. in queens, new york, in 1993, collin ferguson ordered a long island railroad with a . .9-millimeter pistol with 15 magazines, he unloaded and killed six and injured 13 others in one minute. and when he went to load another magazine, he was tackled and disarmed. in chapel hill, north carolina, in 1995, wendell williamson walked the streets of chapel hill with an m-1 rifle. he opened fire, killing two. when he paused to reload, a bartender tackled him and disarmed him. in springfield, oregon, in 1998, kip kenkle went to his high school with several firearms and 1,127 rounds of ammunition. he opened fire, shooting 50 rounds, killing two students and injuring 24 more. and as his firearm ran out of
12:30pm
ammunition and he began to reload, several students tackled him and restrained him until the police arrived. there are many, many others. in fact, half of the mass killings since 1982 involve high-paf-capacity magazine. half of all those mass slaughters were enabled by high-capacity magazines. facts are stubborn things, as ronald reagan used to say. everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own fac facts. daniel patrick moynihan reminded this chamber many times. the most tragic stories for me involve law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty
12:31pm
and in connecticut, they include robert fumiatti of the new haven police department, master police officer peter lavery of the newington police department, patrolman brian hazelton of the east hartford police department, officer james spignazzi of the connecticut environmental department of protection, officer walter williams, iii, of the waterbury police department, officer daniel scott watson of the milford police department, patrolman kenneth bateman of the darian police department, patrolman darryl de joseph of the bridgeport police department, and the first whom i came to know, at least through his family, although i never knew him personally, russell bag shaw. i've known all of these families and had the privilege of coming
12:32pm
to know their children in many instances as well. and i want to talk about russell bagshaw in closing for just a moment. russell bagshaw of the connecticut state police was in his patrol car driving the streets of northeastern connecticut in north wyndham on a summer night in 1991. he was 28 years old and a 4 1/2-year veteran of the connecticut state police. each of these men whom i have mentioned died as a result of gunfire from criminals. some of them at least stolen weapon, perhaps illegally trafficked. none of them should have had access to any firearm. russell bagshaw surprised two
12:33pm
robbers coming out of a local sporting goods store. one of the robbers shot him with a semiautomatic nine-millimeter pistol that had a secondhand grip under the barrel and a 30-round magazine filled with hollow point bullets. before trooper bagshaw had even a chance to use his radio or exit his vehicle, the shooter unloaded 17 hollow point bullets at the cruiser. it took 6.6 seconds from that 30-round high-capacity clip. the shooter fired haphazardly but he had enough to pierce the bulletproof vest bagshaw was wearing above the left armhole and to kill him instantly.
12:34pm
i attended his funeral. lines and lines of his fellow troopers and others from all around the country. i had the privilege of meeting these families and most especially his family. brave and strong, just as the newtown families are. neither russell bagshaw's training or any of the others' preparation could stop or protect them from this carnage. in fact, the troopers i met after the horrific tragedy of december 14 in newtown and sandy hook told me that their bulletproof armor could not have defended them against the assault weapon with the number of rounds that adam lanza had at
12:35pm
that time. there is no preparation, no bulletproof vest, no armor that can protect against these kinds of weapons shot at the range that many of them are, and that is why we should listen to law enforcement, listen to the police and public officials and prosecutors who have told me since i began working on this cause in the early 1990's when we passed the first assault weapon ban in connecticut and i defended it in court, tried the case and then went to the state supreme court successfully defending our law against exactly the same constitutional arguments made now. they are equally without weight at this point. so i urge my colleagues, whether they are wearing this wristband or not, to choose love.
12:36pm
i know it will be difficult. it was difficult for many connecticut legislators, and i carry with me the pen that our connecticut governor used to sign our law that significantly strengthen connecticut's protection against these weapons, against criminals bearing them, against illegal sales, against gun violence. this cause is not going away. whatever the outcome today -- and the vote will be close on many of these amendments, the newtown families are not going away. the connecticut effect is not going away, and we are not going away. unfortunately, gun violence is not going away, and we need to redouble and reinvigorate our efforts whatever the outcome here today. we are not going away. the world has watched newtown
12:37pm
exhibit the kind of strength and courage that we regard as unique ly american. now the world is watching the united states senate, and we will be held accountable for what happens here. history is watching. let us be on the right side of history. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: madam president, i rise as a parent, as a father, as an american who saw the horror of newtown. too many times, i have come to this senate floor to say i offer my thoughts and prayers to the parents and victims of a assault weapon attack, too many times, too many times. columbine, aurora, virginia tech, newtown, how many times
12:38pm
will we have to offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims of gun violence? i have two beautiful children, alicia and rob. they are the most important and cherished things in my life. i don't know what i would do if anything happened to either one of them. so i'm here for them and for the children they may have one day and for every child in newtown and across america whose small voice has been silenced by a gun. i don't think it's an exaggeration to say that each and every member of the senate felt a loss that day just four months ago, but here we are four months later trying to do something but still not enough for those children, for those families, for all the families who have suffered the devastation of a shooter with the ability and the will to kill innocent people, as many as an assault weapon can kill as
12:39pm
quickly as it can fire. a shooter with a desire to get off as many rounds in a short time as possible. and in my view, we are already too armed. we are by far the most armed nation in the world. there are more guns in america. almost 90 per 100 residents than in any other nation. do you know that there are five federally licensed gun dealers in america for every mcdonald's? think about it. think about how many times you see a mcdonald's. well, imagine five times as many times of that of gun dealers. there are about 310 million guns in america, but br that those 310 million guns are owned by only about 40% of american households. and now we're in the midst of a debate in which some are arguing that not only should we not ban assault weapons but we should force every state to allow
12:40pm
people to carry concealed weapons. how does that help reduce gun violence? how are we reducing gun violence if we allow people to carry concealed weapons across state lines, if we allow someone in florida or virginia to carry their gun to new york city and times square or my home state of new jersey? is that the legacy that we want to leave the children and families of newtown? i strongly oppose any amendment that would allow reciprocity for concealed weapons, yet even as we skirt the real issues, banning the weapons and the ammunition devices that have caused our nation so much heartbreak, we would have those who see this as an opportunity to weaken gun laws, those who see this as a way to push, from my view, a radical agenda and put more firearms into the hands of those who don't deserve them. my home state of new jersey has a gun control regime
12:41pm
specifically tailored to a densely populated state. our state requires affirmative permission to buy a firearm, but we leave that decision to those who know the state best in terms of its security, the state police. they conduct a thorough background check, even more thorough than the federal background check, and then the police sign off and give a purchaser a card to buy a firearm. of course we have commonsense safeguards to ensure the second amendment is not violated, including appeal rights, but under an amendment offered by one of my colleagues, soon new jersey's carefully constructed firearms law if this amendment were to be adopted would be eviscerated. soon new jersey's law would only be as good as the least restrictive states. this amendment in essence is mandatory concealed carry reciprocity.
12:42pm
not the current type of concealed carry reciprocity where states might voluntarily enter into agreements to allow their permits to be used in another state. no, this amendment forces states to accept other states' concealed carry permits. i guess so much for the states' rights advocates i have listened to here so many times. at least 28 states grant concealed carry permits to those convicted of stalking, and at least seven states grant concealed carry permits to those convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery. at least 12 do not require any firearm safety training before the issuance of a concealed carry permit. florida and utah do not even require residency for a concealed carry permit, and yet this amendment would force states like new jersey to accept these permits even if the out-of-state concealed carry permit owner would not be
12:43pm
eligible to simply possess a gun under our laws, much less carry it. this amendment would turn our positive discussion on how to best protect our children into another feather in the cap of the n.r.a. and its gun manufacturers, another example for it to show how it's got the stranglehold on this national discussion, and in my view, this is just asking for more gun violence, not ending it. and not banning assault weapons is asking for more gun violence. allowing larger clips with more firepower does nothing to end the violence. it's not about hunting. if you need 100 rounds to go hunt a deer, you're in sad shape. do we honestly think it makes sense to allow someone swowt a mandatory background check to buy an assault weapon that can fire up to 13 rounds a second with something called a bump
12:44pm
fire stock? should we not even be considering making weapons that can fire 13 rounds a second legal on the streets of america? bang, that's one round fired. it took me four seconds to stay those five words. in those four seconds, if i had an assault weapon, i could have gotten off 52 rounds. 52 bullets fired in the time it took me to say five words. there's no need for that kind of firepower on the streets of america. there is no need for the same weapons of that sort to be on the streets of newark, new jersey, or newtown, connecticut, as they are in baghdad, kabul. any attempt that uses the second amendment as an excuse to allow that type of firepower on the streets without some common sense applied to it is not
12:45pm
solving a problem, it's creating one. i will support efforts during this debate to go even further in keeping mass slaughter weapons out of the hands of criminals. i don't believe assault weapons, some of them having names like street sweepers, is about anything other than mass killing. i strongly believe in banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips that allow a deranged individual to kill dozens of people in a matter of seconds. there is simply no rationale for having these weapons on our streets lls your intent is to inflict terror and destruction and mass casualties. in a nation where there are already 310 million guns and far totoo few regulations as to who owns and carries them, i believe we have a responsibility to take these assault weapons off the street. but i understand not everyone shares that view. but the one thing i cannot understand is how someone can argue against something as
12:46pm
simple and basic as requiring a background check before putting a deadly weapon in a person's hand. we owe it to the american people, we owe it to the children of newtown, to the families who are still trying to pick up the pieces from that tragic day. we owe it to the family a six-year-old boy from toms river who was shot recently by a four-year-old neighbor with a .22-caliber rifle that was in the house. he didn't survive the wounds. we owe it to every victim of gun violence to send a message that america will no longer be the most armed nation in the world without at least having commonsense gun safety regulations. who among us, madam president, would be content with the counsels of patience and delay when we lose a neighbor or lose a loved one to the type of gun violence that we could have
12:47pm
prevented by a vote here in the senate today? it's time for some profiles in courage. and i believe that in the men and women of the senate there exists that opportunity and that moment for a profile in courage to stand up for what is right. and that's the opportunity that is presented to us today. i ask that my full statement be entered in the record, in the interest of other members who wish to speak. i ask unanimous consent for that. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: madam president, i have niefer unanimous corn sent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: and with that, madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: i ask unanimous consent that i be recorded as a cosponse other the grassley amendment number 725. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. c coburn: i rise to speak on
12:48pm
the issue that the senate is considering. it's been an interesting three or four weeks as we've considered and talked and thought about how do we address what is best for our country and how do we do that in a way that we protect the constitution and we protect individual rights and we protect state rights. and a lot of ideas have been thrown out, many of them with great infirmities in terms of either impacting second amendment right, impacting 10th amendment right, or the infirmity of all is that they actually won't do anything to actually solve the problem. i come from a state that is very pro-gun. i'm very pro-gun. i own a multitude of weapons. i know how to handle them. i know how to fire them. i don't know how to safety -- safely store them. the issue in front of us is, how
12:49pm
do we protect the second amendment right and the supreme court's rulings that have affirmed our individual right to self-defense and our individual right for freedom? and i believe i actually have an answer that the senate could coalesce around. you know, as i talk to the most avid gun owners in oklahoma, many who are opposing me trying to reach a compromise, the one question that they agree with me on is, if you could know as a gun owner, or whoever you are, if you have a gun and you're going to sell, if you could know that you were not selling that gun to somebody on the "do not buy" list -- you see, we've got all these words going on right now. the background check. there's no background check with the nics list.
12:50pm
it's a check against a prohibited -- people who are prohibited from buying. and it's not a very good list, by the way, because the states haven't complied, the courts haven't complied with people that have been convicted of felony. we have a lot of problems in temples the "do not buy" list. so you actually need to think of this list as cient of like the do not -- kind of like the do not fly list that we have. nobody wants to fly with anyone on that "do not fly" list because they're on that list for a very good reason. and most gun owners -- in fact, i haven't met one yet -- that wants to sell a gun to somebody that's on a "do not buy" list which is called the nics list. so how do we do that? and how do we do that where we don't raise the cost, limit the freedom, or otherwise impede a free activity that's available guaranteed under our constitution? and the other thing i've learned
12:51pm
is the easier laws are to comply with, the more compliance you'll get. so my proposal is very simple and straightforward. let's create a way so that whoever's selling a gun in this country can know that they're not selling it to a criminal, they're not selling it to somebody who's prohibited, which is an illegal alien, a child sx abuser, a felon, those people who are actually -- how do you know? and can we do that in a way that doesn't inhibit commerce, doesn't inhibit the rights of you as an individual under the second amendment, doesn't inhibit the rights of a state under the 10th amendment, how do we do those things? and you know what? it's not hard. with our rights comes some
12:52pm
responsibilities and if i could tell you that you could take out your cell phone and go to a portal and you could get a certificate that says on your cell phone or printed out on your printer, that you're not on the list. and with that would be a p.i.n. number that whoever could be selling you a gun would say, i'm going to check your p.i.n. number to see this is not bogus, and now show me your i.d. and you could actually confirm whether somebody was on or not on the list. that's how we control it. we make it easy. we don't put large hurdles. and, you know, i find myself caught between both extremes in this debate. i actually think it's smart policy to make sure we've put in place something that allowed law-abiding citizens to do the right thing, to actually make a
12:53pm
difference. and if we were to do that, a large percentage -- not all of them -- of the transfers of weapons and guns to people who shouldn't have them would stop. now, the emotion associated with all the violent events over the last three or four years tends to cause us to lose sight of some pretty commonsense principles. we're not going to stop all gun violence in this country. people who are going to do illegal things are still going to do them. we can't stop it all. but we can do straightforward, simple things that can make a big difference in lessening the availability of weapons to people who shouldn't have them.
12:54pm
the other thing we can do is we can make it so that a veteran doesn't automatically lose their second amendment right because for a short period of time, due to their service, they were incapable of managing their financial affairs. that's the right thing to do. and so we can do that. so that's in this proposal. but what i fear is going to happen is nothing. and so what we're going to be offering when there's a time to allow other amendments is -- is my amendment 727 which does the following things. it reauthorizes at an appropriate level the no-buy list. it creates reforms to the grant system so that states will comply with reporting those people who are dangerous to
12:55pm
themselves or somebody else. so we incentivize states to do that. we create a protection for these second amendment rights of veterans. we require the courts to submit to the no-buy list those that are convicted of felony -- violent felonies. we require some transparency in state reporting so you can know whether or not your state is actually complying by reporting those that are a danger to themselves and other people, those that are truly mentally infirmed. because one of our big problems, if you take virginia tech, the individual who committed that crime was known by the state to be of a danger to themselves or somebody else but yet they didn't report it to the "do not buy" list, so we incentivize that.
12:56pm
we allow for exceptions for people who are already authorized in their state to purchase guns, whether it be a conceal carry permit or what the state may say is here's your authorization to say you're not on it. in other words, we give states primacy, protecting the 10th amendment. whether they want go further, they can. but we also allow them to innovate, which is one of the things our forefathers wanted us to make sure we did when we did things in washington. we create a consumer portal that is easy. we also create penalties if you misuse that portal for some other purpose. we -- we enforce a destruction of those records into that
12:57pm
portal so that the government cannot use that as a list to know who is purchasing guns. so we eliminate the concern over record keeping and its assault on the second amendment. we also sunset this so that if it actually doesn't make a marked improvement, which i think it will, in five years it goes away and we do something different. the other thing is, we limit the a.t.f.'s ability to grossly violate the intent of previous laws in terms of the demand letters on federally licensed firearm dealers. i dare say there is a difference in culture on guns in this country depending on where in the country you are. but there is a place to be found in the middle in the senate for doing something that's common
12:58pm
sense. and what we're proposing is something that's simple, it doesn't cost any money to speak of, it's easily accessible, it's verifiable on both ends of a commercial transaction. it does nothing to eliminate the second amendment provisions in the constitution or take away 10th amendment rights of states. and it will actually decrease transfers of weapons to those who are on the "do not buy" list. is it a comprehensive plan? no. will it solve the problem? yes. will it work? yes. some of the criticisms we heard -- well, if there's no record, how do you know they did it? well, if 90% of the people in this country -- which is what the media all is quoting -- want us to do that, 90% of us think
12:59pm
there ought to be an enhancement to the no-buy list in terms of utilizing it, i'd say 90% of the people are the gun owners in america. so if 90% is the number, then you're going to have at least 90% compliance with this very simple, straightforward way so you can know you're complying with the law. so that the other -- the other area that's confusing that people want and why they want a record of a gun is for the investigation of a crime. well, guess what? the best way to not ever have that crime is to have an effective check on the "do not buy" list. now, it won't eliminate all crime but they say the infirmity
1:00pm
with ours is that you can't trace the weapon. that's right, you can't. but the vast majority of weapo weapons, used weapons, aren't sold through gun dealers today, they're not sold at gun shows. they're sold by average, everyday americans to somebody else. so if we don't want the straw purchasers buying them, if we don't want the felons buying them, if we don't want illegal citizens buying them, then what we ought to do is set up something that 90% of america is going to comply with. it's not hard to do. it's easy to do. it's easy to do the right thing. it doesn't please the gun control groups and it doesn't please the hard second amendment right groups. but if you get down and think about it, if you were actually to make it easy to know you could not sell a gun to somebody on the "do not buy" list,
1:01pm
america would comply. and we'd actually see a positive outcome over this debate. you know, i'm amazed at the misinformation that people have about guns when they come to the senate floor and talk about them when they've never fired some of those weapons, haven't ever held them in their hands, don't know what they're designed for. and i'll -- i'll end with this component. i plan to come back tomorrow as i get to bring up this amendment for consideration. our founders had a bill of rights and we had a constitution and it was really designed for moral and good people. but in that bill of rights, as affirmed by the supreme court, was a second amendment right. that isn't going away.
1:02pm
that -- that right isn't going to go away. because even if we were to take it away, the supreme court would probably bring it back. so we really ought to be talking about and leading about what the real problems are in our count country. what are the real problems? one of the real problems is that we're not a moral and great people anymore as compared to what we were when our founding documents were founded. we are in some moral decline and that's because of an absence of real leadership at a lot of levels, in a lot of areas in our country. and we ought to recognize that we can't legislate away the evil that's about us. we can't fix it all with a law. we fix it in the way we live our lives, in the way we treat one another, how we reach out to give our life away to somebody
1:03pm
else every day. and that's one of the crucial things that, as we have become self-focused as americans rather than nation focused and other focus, that we've seen this moral decline come upon us. you know, all i think our country is looking for is real leadership on the principles that really matter, that change people's min mind about what tho and how they do it. and so we're really into a much larger debate than guns. that evil's out there. that criminal element is out there. that mental illness is out the there. we're not going to address all that with a few laws on guns. we're going to address that by
1:04pm
character-based, morally led, morally affirmed leadership at all levels throughout our country. as a physician, i'm trained to fix the real disease, not treat the symptoms. this debate is about symptoms. it's an important debate. there are things we can do. but the real disease is our moral decline as a country. and the historians talk about it. john tyler, the scottish historian, talked about the decline of all republics and what happens to them. america is built for a good, moral people. we have to have the leadership that calls us back to that. madam president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
1:05pm
1:06pm
1:07pm
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. burr: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. burr: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to call up my amendment number 720. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from north carolina, mr. burr, for himself and others, proposes an amendment numbered 720. mr. burr: madam president, i ask that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. burr: madam president, i rise today in the middle of a very important debate on gun control to talk about an issue that should have been at the forefront for years and it deals with our nation's veterans. specifically, 129,000 of our nation's heroes, warriors when their country called on them,
1:08pm
who, because of a determination within the veterans administration, have been deprived of their second amendment rights. -- their second amendment rights to own firearms. now, this is apparently a much tougher issue to understand than i thought because it makes commonsense to me that we should hold all individuals to the same threshold before we take a constitutional right away. if you're a social security beneficiary and social security makes a determination that you have a hard time handling your finances, social security will assign a -- a person to you that helps to navigate the financial challenges that a senior runs into. they don't send you somebody to do that and then turn around and put your name on the nics list,
1:09pm
which is the instant background check, which automatically deprives you of your second amendment right. you see, the i.r.s. doesn't equate that the fact that you can't handle your finances means that you're mentally incapable or that you're a harm to yourself. but what we have is a veterans administration that when they found that the veteran needs help with their financial affairs, the v.a. sends their name to the f.b.i. and they go on a nics list. and all of a sudden that takes away their second amendment right to own a gun. and it says that be in that lives in that house -- so it could be a spouse, it could be a child, it could be an adult child, for that fact -- also cannot own a firearm because the -- the -- the ruling says there can't be a firearm in th the -- in the -- in the
1:10pm
residence. clearly, an appropriate determination if a veteran or any other american is found to be a harm to themselves or has a -- a mental disability, that we would all agree should disqualify them from gun ownership. now, let me say for the purposes of my colleagues and for the american people, this is not the standard that we currently apply at the veterans administration. we look at a veteran who's served his country and we say, you can't balance your checkbook so we're going to assign a fiduciary to you to balance your checkbook. you can't own a firearm. think about this. the fiduciary may be the spouse and all of a sudden that name goes to the nics list. why? because within the v.a., an
1:11pm
examiner determined that an individual could not handle their own finances. the examiner -- i'm not talking about a medical professional. i'm talking about somebody that made a determination as to whether this veteran could handle the deposits of the v.a. checks, could -- could line up the payments that needed to be made. they've determined that they couldn't do that on their own; therefore, that automatically triggers sending that veteran's name to the f.b.i. and depriving them of their second amendment rights in this country. now, let me suggest that the current process is arbitrary. it doesn't look at whether they represent a danger to themselves or to others. and it's in no way relevant to whether the individual should have access to firearms.
1:12pm
to the credit of those who have brought bills -- amendments to the floor for the gun bill, they've tried to address this issue. i -- i commend senator manchin, senator toomey, senator kirk, who has been passionate about this. but what they've tried to do is to say, we've got to get an appeals process that's streamlined and that's easier. what i'm saying to my colleagues is, these are people that should have never had their second amendment right taken away, they shouldn't be on a nics list. there's been no judicial determination of mental incompetency, no judicial determination of a threat to themselves or to others. there's been no medical determination of a mental disability that would present a threat to themselves or anybody else. we've simply made a financial decision that they weren't capable to handle their own
1:13pm
finances. what i -- what i disagree with is that i don't want to -- the united states senate to focus on what's the appropriate appeals process. what i'd like the senate to focus on -- and that's what my legislation, amendment 720 does -- is right at the heart of it. it -- it says that what we're going to do is we're going to require the v.a. to go through a different process to make a determination that takes somebody's second amendment right away. now, some will say the v.a. has an appellate process today. i shared with everybody, we've got 129,000 veterans today that currently have their second amendment right taken away. only 200 have sought relief. only 200 out of 129,000 have sought relief. here's the shocker. in less than a dozen cases, the
1:14pm
appeal's been reversed. the determination has been reversed in less than a dozen cases. now, why would only 200 people appeal this decision that was arbitrarily made by the veterans administration? well, the v.a. doesn't provide any help. as a matter of fact, the veteran is on his own or her own. even the cost to appeal is absorbed by the veteran. we've made it as difficult as we possibly can to take 129,000 veterans and to deprive them of their second amendment and then to turn around and say, and
1:15pm
we're going to make it even harder for you -- for us to threefers because you're going to have -- reverse this because you're going to have to have financial skin in the game. well, out of the 128,000 that haven't applied, having looked at only a half dozen being appealed, where is the incentive there to invest your money? you might as well throw it down a rat hole. so what i'm suggesting to my colleagues is that the standard shouldn't be can you take care of your finances. the standard should be and ought to be are you a harm to yourself or to others? a determination that everywhere else in society is made by the bench, by a judicial review. my good friends who offered an amendment to fix the appellate process suggested that we should
1:16pm
internally within v.a. set up this appeals process where we overcome some of the hurdles, the cost and whether you have aid. well, let me just say to my colleagues are you really confident that we can set up a real appeals process within an agency that is so blind that they put 129,000 people on the next list and deprive them of their second amendment right? can you really take individuals that made this interpretation and believe they can go through a fair appellate review of an applicant's request to be taken off the list? i personally don't believe that can happen, and for that reason, i am offering an amendment to this bill to change the standard, not to eliminate whether a veteran is listed as a
1:17pm
harm to themselves or others, and that in itself would take aaway your second amendment ability to own a gun, but apply the same standard to veterans that we apply to every other american. imagine what would happen if every social security beneficiary who got assigned somebody to help with their finances lost their second amendment right to have a gun. we would kill ourselves, 100 members of the senate, trying to get to the senate floor to change the law because the pressure would be so great. the numbers may not be as big as we might see out of social security, but that's the entire population, but i will suggest to my colleagues i can't think of a population in america that deserves their second amendment right protected more than those who laid their life on the line to protect this republic that we have. so in conclusion, i would urge
1:18pm
my colleagues support amendment 720. i'm not sure what the disposition of this piece of legislation will end up being, but i am convinced that with the addition of amendment 720, a vote in favor of this amendment makes whatever this bill looks like at the end of the day a better bill, one that fairly represents our nation's veterans, and i think continues our commitment to people who have made the ultimate sacrifice to their country. i thank the president. i yield back.
1:19pm
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, madam president. you know, they say that when you outlive your child, that it's unnatural. it violates the laws of nature and that you are never, ever the same. and we all wish that we never have to experience that phenomenon. but on friday, december 14, 20 sets of moms and dads sent their first graders off to school at sandy hook elementary in newtown, connecticut, expecting, as every parent does, to see them come home on friday and then go out and spend a wonderful weekend with their kids, and it was going to be a great weekend because it was the christmas season.
1:20pm
as a parent of a little boy who is just a little bit younger than the first graders that went into that classroom that day, i know how amazing the christmas season can be with a little one. whether they were going to be picking out their christmas tree or putting up outdoor lights or visiting state santa claus, it s going to be the kind of weekend that parents live for. those parents sent their kids off to school that morning, and a few hours later, one shockwave of violence later, 40 parents had outlived their children. i have been so angry for months. i have been angry at adam lanza, i have been angry at his mother for giving him access to those guns, i have been angry at this place for 20 years of inaction, but mostly i have been angry at the people in this chamber and outside of this chamber who say that what we are discussing here, right now, this week
1:21pm
wouldn't have changed what happened in newtown. i'm angry for this first simple reason -- they're wrong. guns have become so much more powerful in this nation over the past several decades, so powerful that the assault weapon, the military style assault weapon that was brought into that school that day was fired at 20 children, and every single one of the kids that was hit died. none of them survived because of the power of that weapon. it got off over 150 bullets in a time period that was perhaps only five minutes long from a weapon that could discharge six bullets a second. there was a weapon of lesser power in that school today, there might be kid still alive.
1:22pm
second, the shooter, to get 150 rounds off, only had to switch magazines six times. during at least one of those exchanges, a bunch of kids ran out of the room, and they are alive today. if we had a limitation on magazines that was closer to ten rounds, adam lanza would have had to have changed clips 15 times, providing another nine opportunities for some subset of those 20 kids to run out and rejoin their parents for the weekend. second, though, in addition to passing laws that would have changed the reality in sandy hook, we have got an obligation to make sure it doesn't happen again and we have an obligation to do something about the routine everyday gun violence that is plaguing this nation. 28 people died in newtown that day. 26 at the school, the shooter and his mother, but every single
1:23pm
day, the average is higher. 30 people on average are dying across the state from gun violence. from just a simple statistical priew, september 14 was an average day. so what do we do? well, the amendments that we're debating here today offered by my democratic colleagues are a really good step in the right direction. i would suggest that there are three rules that should guide our actions, and frankly i think these are pretty simple rules that the vast majority of the american public in every single state that we represent here would agree with. first, i believe that people should be able to own guns, to protect themselves, to shoot for sport, to hunt, but the criminals shouldn't be able to own guns. if you oppose the manchin-toomey amendment, you cannot say with a straight face that you oppose criminals getting guns. if you vote against manchin-toomey, then you're basically saying that you are
1:24pm
okay with more criminals having guns. 90% of americans want us to make this commonsense change. 90% of americans want us to crack down on the number of criminals who have weapons out there because they know that almost 40% of gun sales in this country are done without a background check. for a while, i could only explain opposition to near universal background checks through the power of the gun lobby because i just thought that people must know in their heart that a simple, easy thing to do is to make sure that criminals don't own guns, and so there must be some external pressure that's forcing people to do the wrong thing. the longer that i've spent in this place, the more i'm convinced that there are people who actually do believe that we should just go back to the days of the wild, wild west, that we should usher in a new era of gun control darwinism in which the good guys have guns, the bad guys have guns, and we just hope that the good guys shoot the bad
1:25pm
guys. the gun lobby, frankly, tells us this. we should probably listen to them. they say the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to give a good guy a gun, that the government should just get out of the way. the second rule is this -- some guns are just too dangerous to have on the streets. now, we have always accepted this premise. we've always said that there are certain weapons that just should be in the hands of law enforcement and the military. guns have changed over the years. guns that used to be in the hands of the military now are available to the public, and adam lanza had one of those weapons when he walked into that school. these are military weapons. these aren't weapons that you need to defend your home. these are not weapons that you need to go out and shoot at targets or hunt in our forests. these are weapons that were designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible, and they are finding their way into our
1:26pm
schools and our movie theaters and our places of worship. some guns are just too dangerous to have on the street. and third, some ammunition too easily allows for mass murder. the young man that walked into the movie theater in aurora had a weapon. attached to it was a 100-round drum. who on earth needs a 100-round drum of ammunition to protect themselves, to go out and shoot for sport? nobody does. it should be illegal. and 30 rounds is too much as well. 30-round clips, 100-round drums too easily lead to mass murder and it is being seen in this country over and over and over again. we can take a step forward to realizing those three basic principles today on the floor of the united states senate. we can vote for the manchin-toomey amendment supported by 90% of the american
1:27pm
public which will make sure that less criminals have guns, something that just everybody out there, except for a subset of people in this chamber agree on. we can make the decision to take these dangerous assault weapons off the streets, allowing for thousands of weapons to still be legally purchasable, but to say that the most dangerous ones just should stay in the hands of the military and law enforcement. and we can say enough is enough when it comes to these high-capacity clips. we know that the shooting stopped in aurora and tucson when they exchanged magazines. we know the kids escaped in newtown when the shooter exchanged clips. less bullets per magazine means more people survive these mass shootings. we can do that today as well. and when we vote today, i'd suggest that of all the victims that we can think about -- and i have been coming down to this floor for the last two weeks
1:28pm
talking about victims. i have probably told the story of 50 or 60 or 70 victims on the floor of this senate. that we think of two specifically. i would just end today by talking first about a woman from chicago named shirley chambers. shirley raised her four kids, three boys and one girl in the infamous cabrini green housing complex in chicago. it's where "good times" supposedly took place. it was a tough life, but she remembers her kids riding tricycles throughout the neighborhood, and she said they were all happy kids. on january 26 of this year, seven people were killed from gun violence, seven people in one day were killed from gun violence in chicago. one of them was her son ronnie chambers. his mother buried him soon after his death. ronnie was one of the 3,300 people that have been killed by gun violence in our cities and in our suburbs since
1:29pm
december 14 of last year. she had four kids, but after ronnie died, shirley was childless because all four of her children had been killed by guns on the streets of chicago -- carlos, jerome, latoya and now ronnie, all gone. she said my life will never, ever be the same. isn't that the understatement of the decade? and lastly, i want you to think of mark and jackie barden. i have talked a lot about little daniel on the floor of the united states senate, and so i will end my remarks in this debate with him. mark and jackie lost daniel that morning. these parents from newtown have been just so generous. they have visited our offices. they have allowed us, myself and senator blumenthal to come to this floor and to tell the story
1:30pm
of who their kids were and who their kids would have been. mark and jackie said this of daniel after he died -- quote - "everyone who has ever met daniel remembers and loves him. words cannot express what a special boy daniel was. such a light. always smiling. unfailingly polite, incredibly affectionate, fair, and so thoughtful towards others, imaginative in play, both intelligent and articulate in conversation. in all, a constant source of laughter and joy. daniel was fearless in his pursuit of happiness and life. he earned his ripped jeans and his missing two front teeth. despite that, his mother said, he was just so good. he embodied everything that's wholesome and innocent in this world. every morning, the bardens'
1:31pm
kids would leave for school in succession, twhept to different schools. daniel was the youngest, so he left the latest. like most kids you never get out of bed until you have to so every morning his older brother who he adored left for school before daniel had gotten up but not on december 14. every single morning that year daniel had slept in ass his brother went off to -- as his brother went offer to school. but daniel got up early. and as his brother was walking down the driveway to the bus, for the first time that entire school year, daniel ran after him in his pajamas and his flip-flops. and he hugged his older brother. and he said goodbye. losing a child is unnatural. but what should be just as unnatural is a senator's
1:32pm
unwillingness to do something to change that reality. occasionally in truly exceptional moments, we hold the power here that is so big and so bold to change the reality of life and death. we can't amend what happened to the bardens. their loss will sear forever. we can't change the fact that shirley chambers lost her four children. she'll bear that loss for the rest of her life. but we can reduce the likelihood that more qidz kids will die of gun violence in chicago. we can reduce the chances that at sandy hook will happen. these parents just can't understand the casual willingness of this body to turn our backs on a chance to make sure that that kind of loss doesn't happen to more parents. to them, that would be truly
1:33pm
unnatural. i yield back. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: before i speak on this bill, i would like to ask unanimous consent about detailees being on the floor here during the debate so i ask unanimous consent that mike lotus, paul casey and stefan -- steven sewell have floor privileges during the remainder of the 113th congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i ask consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendment and ask for its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report weu8 report -- will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from iowa, mr. glals, propose amendment numbered 725. mr. grassley: that cons students
1:34pm
the reading of the amendment. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: the senate will vote on the amendment i'm offering for senator cruz, senator graham and many others and we offer it as a substitute. i believe that the underlying bill infringes on the second-amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, and it does not provide for adequate measures against criminals who commit gun violence. my approach is much better than the manchin-toomey amendment. the current background check database called nics is broken. not enough accurate information on prohibited persons is making its way into the nics database. this is particularly true for mental health records. checking firearm purchasers against an incomplete database will not be effective in stopping prohibited persons from
1:35pm
gaining access to guns. additionally, we should not further strain the existing broken system by expanding the use of incomplete database to more transactions as the manchin-toomey bill would do. we should fix the existing system. and that is not -- and that is what my amendment does. first, we should reauthorize nics so the grassley-cruz amendment reauthorizes nics improvement act, and the grants to states provided therein to provide for the states if they provide mental health records. the amendment codifies one of president obama's executive orders that requires the attorney general to issue guidance to federal agencies about which records they must submit to nics.
1:36pm
it improves nics as well by clarifying the definition of -- quote, unquote -- "adjudicated mental incompetent" so that it includes only actual adjudications, not a single psychiatrist's diagnose -- diagnosis. the manchin-toomey amendment does not do that. mental health records would also be improved by requiring the federal courts to make available to nics information concerning such situations as defendants who plead guilty to a crime for the reason of insanity. this approach is consistent with what "the washington post" columnist cortland molloy writes this very day. he says -- quote -- "the national gun control legislation set for debate in congress would rely on a bureaucratic dragnet
1:37pm
of background checks so extensive that anybody's hands could end up being the wrong ones, including mine." he thinks that gun control supporters are -- quote -- "bent on harassing him into giving giving --" -- end of quote -- up his guns. he also offers a prescription for the actual problems. pretty simple, -- quote, unquote -- "go after the criminal. take his illegal guns. and then -- quote, unquote -- "leave everybody else alone." everybody else but the constituents -- or the felon, leave them alone. my amendment reflects that view. it enhances criminal prosecutions of those who use
1:38pm
guns. the real way to fight gun crime is to pursue criminals, not law-abiding citizens. under my amendment, federal gun crime prosecutions are to be increased. this will happen because the very successful project exile will be expanded from just richmond, virginia, nationally. this initiative requires federal and state officials to develop agreements on enforcing gun laws. it requires the united states attorney to designate at least one assistant to prosecute firearms cases. project exile will be expanded to 18 jurisdictions, including three tribal jurisdictions, all
1:39pm
with high violent crime rates. more of these criminals need to be prosecuted. manchin-toomey does not address this issue. the rammed also increases the maximum sentence from five years to ten years for those who lie and on the form that needs to be filled out when purchasing a gun from licensed dealer. we must ask hard before the justice department asks dealers to sell guns and dhint track them. if you remember my involvement in operation fast and furious, you'll understand why i propose that. and, of course, the fact that the justice department didn't do that right, that is why operation fast and furious was such a disaster. it led to the death of a brave
1:40pm
border patrol agent, brian terry, who was killed by one of those 2,000 guns. to void such -- avoid such an ill-considered operation in the future, the amendment requires the attorney general, the deputy or the head of the criminal division to personally approve any programs for selling guns to criminals. the leahy amendment's similar provision would allow the director of a.t.f. to make this determination. but, as so happens, the a.t.f. director did not object to the flawed fast and furious operation, so that defeats the whole point of requiring high-level approval. oversight work on fast and furious showed the need, then, for federal statutes against
1:41pm
straw purchasing and the consequent gun trafficking. the amendment contains such offenses but in a more targeted way than does the leahy amendment. and now that there is is a trafficking offense, the amendment strikes a.t.f.'s unnecessary ability to issue demand letters collecting information on purchasers of certain rifles along the southwest border. the way to target gun violence, then, is to direct efforts against criminals, not law-abiding citizens. so the amendment increases the maximum penalty from ten years to 15 years for transferring a firearm to a prohibited user as well as a penalty for illegal possessing a firearm in the first place. it creates a 15-year maximum sentence for transferring a
1:42pm
firearm to someone knowing that it would be used for a crime of violence, drug trafficking crime, foreign narcotics king opinion crime, -- kingpin crime or even terrorism. contrary to what the majority would have the american people believe, mass shootings are not only about guns and mental illness. they're also about what has happened to us as an entire american society. so the amendment then authorizes a study by the national institute of justice, including the national academy of sciences, on the causes of mass shootings. there are other proposals on that subject before the senate, but they're careful not to look at the entire problem. i don't want to single out any
1:43pm
possible cause but i also don't want to exempt any potential cause. so some of the mass shooters, for instance, watched and used disturbing video games. the possible influence of violent video games should be part of what is examined. the amendment also expands the right of law-abiding gun owners. it allows interstate firearms sales by permitting out-of-state dealers to sell in a state if they comply with all of the state laws in which they're selling that gun into. it permits members of the armed services to buy a gun in their state of residence or where they are stationed. the amendment allows firearms dealers to access nics to run background checks on their
1:44pm
prospective employees. presently they can't do that. but unlike manchin-toomey, the amendment requires that the rights of the prospective employee be respected. the employee should have to be provided notice and have to give their consent before a check could be run. also unlike manchin-toomey, the amendment would expand the rights of lawful gun owners to travel throughout other states without fear of prosecution. from the states that they're traveling through or to. manchin-toomey, whatever its intent, would make it more likely that law-abiding gun owners would be arrested and prosecuted as they traveled through other states. title 2 of my substitute amendment addresses mental health. it reauthorizes the bipartisan mentally ill offender treatment
1:45pm
and crime reduction act. these funds are used for mental health courts, crisis intervention teams, veteran treatment courts, police academy efforts, and prison services. the amendment allows byrne grants to be used for mental health programs and operations by law enforcement or corrections. it -- it allows cops grants to be used for training law enforcement so that they can better deal with mental illness. to restore the gun-owning rights of our veterans, a judicial determination would be necessary that a person is a danger to himself or others to be considered to have been adjudicated mentally defective. title 3 is focused on the all-important school safety
1:46pm
issue that reauthorizes the secure our schools grants at the prior funding level of $30 million per year for ten years and to safeguard taxpayer money, it would require that different offices that award grants at the justice department consult with each other before these grants are awarded. we want to help as many different schools as possible, so this will cut down on administrative overhead so the dollars go to the schools and not to bureaucrats. finally, madam president, we should understand that manchin-toomey would not have stopped newtown. people who steal guns do not submit to background checks. we heard testimony in the judiciary committee that background checks will be effective only if there they are universal and accompanied by gun
1:47pm
registration. we should not start down the path to gun registration as history shows where that leads. manchin-toomey creates, not closes, loopholes by requiring background checks for some private sales but not others. we have heard from gun control groups that were it to pass, they would immediately seek to expand background checks even further. so you can see the slippery slope of compromise of the second amendment that we're on to if we go manchin-toomey. and the way manchin-toomey works, if someone takes out an ad for a gun in their church bulletin or farm bureau newsletter, they would have to proceed with a background check. manchin-toomey's exception for family member transfers provides
1:48pm
cold comfort. if a family member transfers a gun to another family member that he does not know but is found later that he had reasonable cause to believe is prohibited, that person would face five years in jail. even worse, for the first time, a violation of federal law should be based on a violation of state or local law. a family member may not know the firearm laws in the place where the other family member resides. those laws are published. of course, ignorance of law is no excuse. a person would have reasonable cause to believe that a family member was in violation of them even if the person did not actually know those state or local laws, and if they transferred the gun to a family member and they did not know the permitting rules in another state under manchin-toomey, that
1:49pm
family member could face up to five years in jail. so i hope i made a case that particularly in the case of families, this is not acceptable. and we cannot have the fate of law-abiding citizens turn on assurances of prosecutorial discretion. finally, my amendment, and not manchin-toomey, protects the rights of law-abiding owners to travel through other states if their guns are unloaded and ammunition is secured. manchin-toomey seems to do this but it does not do it. it cuts back on existing protections. it provides that the criminal immunity does not apply if the transportation does not violate any gun felony.
1:50pm
but some state laws say that not having a state permit for a gun is a felony, so a law-abiding gun owner who did not have a permit would commit a state felony under manchin-toomey they could be arrested and could be prosecuted. in other states that make gun transportation crimes misdemeanors could change those felonies and eliminate the force of the gun owners' protection act. so, madam president, my amendment contains commonsense measures to fight gun violence in our communities and to protect the second amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, so obviously i feel that the substitute i have before the united states senate is a better way to go than manchin-toomey's
1:51pm
amendment to the underlying bill. i yield the floor. and i guess i will suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
1:52pm
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: madam president, i want to speak today about the series of votes that will be taking place this afternoon on gun rights, and i want to start off by telling a little story. it will explain why there are some difficulties with some of the amendments that are here.
1:53pm
i had a person in cheyenne come to me and say, you know, i advertised a gun that i wanted to sell and the guy was from southern colorado so he had to drive about 300 miles, but he was -- he was former f.b.i. and had a concealed carry permit and he was willing to drive up to cheyenne and wanted to do it the right way, so both of them wanted to do it the right way. the person from colorado was willing to pay the fee for doing a gun check. and the person in cheyenne arranged for a federally licensed dealer to do that. so they met at the gun store with the gun, and of course credentials as a former f.b.i. agent is probably good enough to get through a gun check, and concealed carry permit, there is reciprocity in wyoming for that, and didn't think there would be any problem. they looked at it, put it into the system, and got word back that he would know in five days. well, it's a long trip to get a gun, and the person that had the gun had another one that was just like it and he was
1:54pm
convinced of the credentials, so they went to his house and finished the transaction, and the fellow from colorado went home. and the fellow from cheyenne went down to retrieve his other gun, and he found out that it's now in the federal system, and so he can have a background check done on himself to get his own gun back. so there are difficulties with the gun check. they are not immediate. there isn't a computer that immediately says you're in the -- this person isn't in there so go ahead and sell the gun, and it can be a five-day process, which for a three-day gun show can be a bit of a problem, or even a shorter one than that. so -- so i want to talk a little more broadly about gun rights because the senate will be voting on proposals today that affect rights not created by law but rather ones that were created by the constitution that lasted a lot longer than anything that we do in this body. wyoming is a state of gun
1:55pm
owners. a large number of wyoming residents grow up learning to respect and lawfully use firearms. as a matter of fact, many schools and youth organizations build hunter safety and gun safety into their curriculum so that young people become familiar with the responsibilities of gun ownership at an early age. therefore, it should be no surprise that a majority of wyoming residents have called on me to oppose any legislation that puts additional restrictions on the freedoms they enjoy and use daily. i have been saying for some time that the bill before the senate does not focus on the problem. there is no doubt that we need to do more to curb the senseless acts of violence that continue to occur in this country. one of the things we need are parents, parents to be more careful and more repetitive at telling their kids that it is not right to kill people. it's not even right to bully them. and it's definitely not right for them to kill themselves.
1:56pm
until we can get that message across to our kids, i hope that we don't rely on a few votes by this body to make everybody feel comfortable that all the problem is taken care of. it won't be. the senate should focus on making sure current laws are enforced. they're not. and finally, our nation and its community should be doing more to foster the idea that life has to be respected. however, the problem with several of the proposals that we voted on today is that they add programs to track records of failure. additionally, i oppose limiting the right of gun owners to transfer their firearms to their neighbor or loan hunting rifles to their family members. the underlying bill the senate's debating would restrict that right in many areas and would only make gun ownership more burdensome on lawful citizens. my colleagues in other states may not realize this, but in wyoming, guns are not used just for self-defense and recreation.
1:57pm
they are a tool. ask the rancher who uses a rifle to defend livestock from predation or the outfitter who uses a gun to protect clients in the back country. firearms do have everyday uses in wyoming. sometimes it's necessary to transfer or loan a gun to a nephew, a niece or an employee, but under what's being considered, that right may be severely infringed. i do not condone acts of gun violence. i'm a father and a grandfather and will do everything i can to keep guns out of the wrong hands. however, olympic not willing to infringe on the constitutional right of lawful gun owners when the laws already designed to protect us are being unenforced. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
1:58pm
1:59pm
2:00pm
2:01pm
quorum call:
2:02pm
the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: thank you, madam president. i would ask unanimous consent to dispense with the calling of the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you, madam president. madam president, since 1968, more americans have been killed by gun violence in the united states than have died in all of our wars in our nation combined, from the revolution to the last casualty in afghanistan. that is a heavy toll on public safety and public health, and as
2:03pm
a body, this senate can do more and should do more to make our communities safer. it has been too many years with too little action, too much tragedy and heartbreak since the last debate on guns. i know all of my colleagues share my utter horror at the mass shooting at the sandy hook elementary school last december, and yet our responses to this and other tragedies in some cases are vastly different. i am motivated by them to demand passage of serious, concrete, and comprehensive measures to try to safeguard innocent and precious life, to prevent the new newtown, the next aurora, the new tucson and callous other devastating examples of senseless gun violence. unfortunately, it seems that we are on the verge of throwing up our hands and saying, there is nothing we can do. there is something we can do. we will take a series of votes this afternoon to reinstate the assault weapons ban and prohibit high-capacity magazines,
2:04pm
amendments i am cosponsoring, and a compromise effort to close the gun show loophole and require better background checks. these measures balance protection for responsible gun ownership with protection for public safety. as someone who has served in the united states military, i believe that carrying a gun is a serious responsibility. however, today is -- today it is far too easy for criminals, domestic abusers, gang members and terrorists to buy weapons. today's "new york times" described just how easy it is. one south carolinian man is noted as -- quote -- "a fugitive from rhode island police, who has two outstanding felony warrants as well as a misdemeanor warrant. his legal status bars him from owning guns but he was recently seeking to buy an ak-47 assault rifle on the web site arms list and was also trying to trade a mollen rifle.
2:05pm
he posted photos on his facebook account of an ak-47 he had already purchased along with a variety of other guns. clearly the system is broken and there is room for commonsense reform. indeed, we need to close this gaping loophole in current law that allows the sale of firearms at gun shows or on-line without accountability or background checks and these checks would determine whether the buyer has a criminal record or is otherwise prohibited from acquiring a weapon. the manchin-toomey compromise, while not perfect and not my ideal solution, would go a long way towards closing these loopholes. i want to personally commend both senator manchin and senator toomey for their thoughtful, comprehensive, bipartisan and, indeed, in many respects courageous steps to try to make this legislation possible for all of us. in march of 2004, during the 108th congress, when democrats were in the minority, senator mccain and i worked together
2:06pm
on bipartisan legislation to close the gun show loophole. with his great leadership, we passed an amendment 53-46 that was one of several successful gun safety amendments. ultimately, the gun lobby defeated the underlying bill, a bill it had originally sponsored, supported and had identified as its top priority because we had managed to pass sensible firearms controls, at least in the amendments to that legislation. but this is proof that passing sensible legislation to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals is possible with bipartisan cooperation. we've done it. gun ownership is a fundamental right in this country, but reasonable limitations on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips are fully consistent with the second amendment. indeed, in the 2008 majority opinion in the heller decision,
2:07pm
justice scalia made clear that the second amendment is -- quote -- "not unlimited" and is not -- quote -- "a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." limiting access to military-style weapons and strengthening background checks would help save lives and make our communities safer. we also need to improve access to mental and behavioral health care. one of the ironies is that often many times the victim of gun violence or other types of violence is suffering from mental disability. it's not the stereotype that these individuals are the perpetrators of all of this violence. but it's important to incorporate within this legislation measures that will help strengthen our mental health system, and that's why i support the harkin-alexander amendment, which, among many
2:08pm
provisions, would include my bipartisan reauthorization of the garrett lee smith memorial act, legislation that was led very courageously and successfully by our former colleague, senator gordon smith. i urge my colleagues to support these amendments, to muster the same kind of bipartisan cooperation that senator mccain and i and several others years ago led to the successful passage of the gun show background check. i hope we can reach a sensible consensus, indeed, an overwhelming majority of americans are demanding this. there is no question what the american people wants. the question we will settle today, are we responding to the american people or are we responding to a very narrow self-interest? i hope we'll respond to the american people. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. shelby: mr. president, this afternoon i rise to defend the
2:09pm
second amendment to our constitution. mr. president, recent mass killings such as those in connecticut, colorado are the impetus for the gun control legislation that we're discussing before the senate now. like most other people, i mourn the victims of these senseless acts of violence carried out by seriously disturbed individuals. but unfortunately, mr. preside mr. president, this legislation i believe would do nothing to prevent such tragedies going forward. the harsh but unavoidable fact is that no amount of government intervention can prevent irrational people from doing terrible things. therefore, we should not react to these tragedies in an irrational manner here in the senate that would erode a fundamental right of every citizen in the united states. mr. president, the second amendment states, as you well
2:10pm
know, unambiguously -- and i quote -- "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infring infringed." it makes plain to criminals that their targets have the right to defend themselves, their families, and their property. and since criminals do not follow the law, never will follow the law, new restrictions will hinder only the law-abiding among us, i'm afraid. and make no mistake, mr. president, this is just the first assault on the second amendment. more background checks today, gun registration tomorrow. who knows what will follow after this? congress i believe should reject it all now. mr. president, my opposition to the legislation before the senate is not abstract. gun control laws have proved ineffective in reducing violent
2:11pm
crime. as gun ownership in the u.s. has increased over recent years, nationwide crimes have decreas decreased. nonpartisan studies, however, show no correlation between the now expired assault weapons ban and a decrease in crime rates. still, violence has spiked in certain parts of this country. in chicago, for example, murder rates are soaring, yet chicago has among the most draconian gun laws, restrictive gun laws in the country. these trends have developed, mr. president, not because of gun control legislation but in spite of it. despite this failed record, mr. president, the legislation before the senate pushes more of the same. the so-called compromise amendment would do nothing but compromise our second amendment rights. first, it would drastically expand background checks for gun purchases in an inconsistent and
2:12pm
i believe unenforceable manner. for example, the legislation mandates background checks for all firearm purchases at gun shows between two nonlicensed parties. yet it's unclear whether the same buyer and seller would have to run a background check if they were to meet at a gun show but wait until it's over to execute the sale. the legislation also mandates background checks for any gun purchase pursuant to an advertisement by a buyer or a seller. i believe it would be extremely difficult to enforce under a narrow definition of what constitutes an advertisement. under the extremely broad definition provided in this amendment, enforcement will be virtually impossible. mr. president, will determined criminals not simply avoid gun
2:13pm
shows and advertisement? you can bet they would. i believe we should not restrict transactions between law-abiding citizens, especially when we will not prevent such transactions between criminals. this amendment would also allow health care providers to place a patient in the national instant criminal background check database. i believe this would violate patient privacy and remove their second amendment rights based on subjective judgments and without any clear guidelines or due process. it's unclear whether a patient must be informed of the health care provider's decision to submit his or her private health information to authorities. this provision could very well discourage those who need mental health services from seeking them for fear that their constitutional rights may be
2:14pm
abrogated. i believe we should not put doctors of patients in this position. in addition, mr. president, the f.b.i. estimates that enforcing these background checks would cost approximately $100 million annually. the amendment prohibits the -- at the same time, this amendment would prohibit the f.b.i. from charging federally licensed firearms dealers to run these background checks. so to carry this out if it were to become law, the money must come from someone. will it be gun buyers or taxpayers? either way, mr. president, i oppose it. but again, this legislation is just the first step. it would lay the groundwork for even more draconian and ineffective gun control measur measures. as one of the justice departme department's leading crime researchers has stated, the government's ability to implement near universal background checks would rely at
2:15pm
least in part on -- quote -- "requiring gun registration." i oppose that. mr. president, there are as many guns in this country perhaps as there are people, according to some estimates. that's more than 300 million people and there are probably over 300 million guns. the bureaucracy that we have today cannot track all of the people illegally residing in this country. why then would anyone believe that the bureaucracy could track all of the guns illegally possessed in this country? and who would pay for it? would gun owners be subject to still more fees or taxes for exercising their second amendment rights? who would have access to the so-called registry? would the public know who owns guns and who does not? who would ensure that this sensitive information is protected and not used for
2:16pm
political purposes, and how? we do not know the answers to these questions, but we do know that such restrictions will not prevent the next tragedy. we should not start down this dangerous road. what should we do instead? i have a few suggestions. instead of undermining the second amendment, mr. president, congress should focus its attention on three areas. first, i believe that robust prosecution of violent criminals is the best deterrent for violent crime. prosecutors should punish to the fullest extent of the law individuals who misuse guns, knives or anything else to commit violent crimes. there should be no leniency, mr. president, what ever for the commission of such crimes. secondly, we should examine and address any deficiencies -- and we have them -- in our mental health system. time and again we have sao*ep --
2:17pm
seen a strong connection between mental illness and violent crime. we should not fall prey to the delusion that government can prevent all bad things, nor should we assume that simply throwing money at the problem will solve it. we should do, mr. president, instead a better job of helping those with mental illnesses before their problems spiral out of control. third, i would suggest that we should weigh the impact of violence in the entertainment industry on violent crime in this nation. many video games, movies, television shows and songs contain graphic depictions of violence. common sense tells us that glorified violence can distort impressionable minds particularly those afflicted with mental illnesses or mental challenges. still many in hollywood defend the first amendment to the
2:18pm
constitution with the same wild-eyed zeal that they trash the second amendment to the constitution. mr. president, i stand here to defend the bill of rights in its entirety. and in closing, i've recently held, mr. president, public meetings since january 1 in each of my state's 67 counties. my constituents overall are deeply concerned about any infringement of their second amendment rights. they're concerned about their ability to protect themselves. they're concerned about their ability to protect their families. and they're concerned about their ability to protect their property. they're concerned, mr. president, that the activities, traditions and way of life that they have long and peaceably enjoyed and protected by the constitution could possibly be outlawed. they're concerned that they may unknowingly run afoul of a new gun control law because the
2:19pm
proposals before us are so illogical and inconsistent and contrary to common sense. mr. president, i believe this overall is a legislative misfire, and i have outlined what i believe would constitute a clear-eyed response to the situation at hand. i will continue to vigorously oppose gun control legislation. i will continue to stand firm in defense of the second amendment. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: would the goes from alabama yield? mr. shelby: i'll be glad to yield for a question. mr. manchin: senator, i respect your position, i truly do. and you've been a good friend. in the amendment senator toomey and i are working on, if i can just point out or ask your concerns about that or your consideration, if you would, especially the second amendment. because i'm a defender, and i think senator toomey is, as you are, of the second amendment. in our amendment, we basically
2:20pm
strengthen and enforce and promoted t. here's what we have. allow deal torres sell guns in different states which they can't do now. allow affective-duty soldiers to buy homes in their home state. we allow people in transit to carry an unloaded locked weapon. the bill does not expand the authority of the a.t.f. we make it a penalty by a felony and 15 years in prison by registration. mr. shelby: i tell the distinguished senator and my friend from west virginia, i have a lot of respect for him, but i totally disagree. this is the first step of the erosion of our rights of the second amendment. that's why i disagree with this. i totally fundamentally disagree. mr. manchin: i respect your position on this, sir. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina.
2:21pm
mr. graham: i'd like to be recognized if possible to talk about the pending amendments for about eight minutes. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. graham: mr. president, this debate we're having about gun legislation, how to solve a difficult problem, is a good debate. and quite frankly, i never understood why we would not want to have this debate. this is an issue that most americans very much would like to see something of substance accomplished. but the goal is to do something of substance that will address the underlying problem, not just address the underlying session in the feel-good category. senator manchin and toomey are very sincere. i know you're trying to fix a problem. i understand where you're coming from. i would like to take my time to talk about two things. the president has given a lot of speeches about this issue, very emotional in nature. the state of the union i don't know speeches; lit -- state of the union i don't know speeches. traveled all over the country to
2:22pm
support two things. background checks and magazine sizes. at the end of the day the senate will take up these measures individually and some what collectively. and here's what i think will come. when it comes to the magazine size legislation, that is not going to pass the senate simply because there are thousands, if not millions, of magazines beyond ten rounds out in the current marketplace. from a criminal point of view, this legislation wouldn't affect them one bit. they'll get a magazine size, whatever size they would like. it would affect law-abiding citizens and put you in a bad spot. the best way to interrupt a shooter in a newtown situation is not to limit the magazine size but to have a security officer in the front that can confront the shooter before they get to the kids. don't kid yourself that having to reload is going to be the
2:23pm
answer to interrupting a crazy person bent on destroying lives of innocent people. the best way in a school environment, in my view, is to confront that shooter with a traeupbt law enforcement -- trained law enforcement officer. the grassley amendment has money put back into the system that is president obama cut $300 million out of school safety at a time when i think that was very unwise. we restore that money. two months ago, maybe longer, there was a young woman at home in the atlanta suburbs with her two twin daughters. i believe they are twin daughters. there was a home invasion by someone who had just been released from jail. she took her children up into the closet on the second floor and hid in the closet, got on the cell phone call with her husband asking what to do. she grabbed the .38 revolver. the guy broke into the closet. she fired six times, hit him
2:24pm
with the begun, hit him five of the six times and he was still able to drive away. in the hands of that mother, six shots were not enough. it wouldn't bother me one bit if she had 30 rounds. in the hands of a mentally unstable person or convicted felon, one bullet is one too many. that is why i'm going to oppose magazine sizes. it doesn't address the problem. as to the ar-15, there are four million of these rifles available, it is one of the most popular selling sportsmen's rifles in the country. i've been in the military for almost 30 years. it's similar to the m-16 but it's a semiautomatic, not a fully automatic rifle. the reason i own one is i like to shoot. i'm not going to bother anybody. i'm not going to do anything wrong with the gun. i passed a background check to get the rifle. why an ar-15? vice president, who is a good friend, suggested a double-barrel shotgun is the best way to defend a home in
2:25pm
case you find a lawless environment. where you've had a hurricane, earthquake or natural disaster where law enforcement is not available to your family because the system is broken. they can't call, travel, there has been a catastrophic event. sandy, hugo, katrina, these things happen in the real world where law enforcement breaks down. he was talking to a young man about this. you need a double barrel shotgun to defend your home. i disagree. if there is a roving gang in a if you want, one without -- roving gang in a neighborhood, they are going to pick the f-15 last. i think that makes sense as a self-defense weapon. that is why the assault ban is not going to pass. less than 2 or 3% of all pherdz in this country are -- murders in this country are committed with a rifle of any kind.
2:26pm
most murders are committed with handguns. at the end of the day the magazine limitation is not going to fail because it doesn't address the problem. in the hands of a mother, six rounds are not enough. in the hands of a criminal, one is too many. the ar-15, four million guns available, assault weapons, very popular selling gun. i think under heller that type of weapon would be protected. it's not the guns you own. it's who owns it. at the end of the day the universal background check are not going to make it. senators manchin and toomey are trying to find a solution in a smaller way. here's my concern about background check. last year 80,000 people failed the background check. 9,000 who failed the background check were convicted felons on the run from the law. and 44 people were prosecuted out of 80,000. of those 9,000, i can't find one
2:27pm
case where the law enforcement found out that a criminal on the run from the law tried to buy a gun and went to pick him up. at least catch dumb criminals if you're dumb enough to fill out a background check while you're on the run, the system ought to catch you. in 2005 there was a young lady named alice bowlen who is a paranoid schizophrenic, very troubled young lady, history of mental illness who pled not guilty by reason of insanity of trying to kill the president of the united states and a secret service agent. the threats were made in south carolina at the canadian border and she eventually came to south carolina with her family. she was adjudicated by a federal court, pled not guilty by reason of insanity. the plea was accepted. she was confined to a mental health institution by the court. when she got out, she went home. in february of this year she went to walterboro and bought a
2:28pm
22 small pistol, filled out the background check and her not reason by insanity not guilty plea was not entered the background system. the fact that she was confined it a mental health institution by a federal court didn't make it into the background check system. she bought the gun, went to a private school, ashley hall, a private school in charleston, and went into the staff, the office area where the staff was located, pulled out the gun, the gun didn't fire, thank goodness. the background system doesn't catch people like her. there are 14,000 people in south carolina that have been adjudicated a danger to themselves or other that are not in the background system. the grassley-cruz-graham bill would fix that problem. it would make sure before you get a grant, the state who requests the grant, you've got to enter into the federal data base.
2:29pm
people who have been held -- a danger to themselves or others by a competent courts. it looks like we could at least do that to get thousands if not up to a million people who have been deemed to be a danger to thepls or others into the background system before you expand it. i support grassley-cruz-graham. it has an antitrafficking component to it. it has a task force that will have $50 million, i believe, available to the federal law enforcement community to go after people who fail a background check or felons. i think it is a much better approach than the other legislation on the floor. so i will be opposing manchin-toomey. i appreciate the spirit in which it was offered. i think expanding the backgrounk system is not the problem. doing something about a felon who fails a background check is a wiser approach rather than
2:30pm
expanding a broken system. when you have 44 people out of 80,000 prosecuted, something is wrong. why create more paperwork where nobody is going to do something about it? let's focus on the problem. i think when it's all said and done, after a reasoned debate, the president's proposals, more emotional than they were practical of a universal book ground check, which would have included a private sale, no matter what they say, at the end of the day, these proposals are not going carry the day. we should be going after the criminal, not the law-abiding citizen. all of us should want to make sure that those of us who are a danger to others should not have access to a weapon. that is commonsense approach to the problem. i look forward to votes today and votes to come because this is an issue that should be debate. i am not fraid to voice the courage of my convictions. everyone in this body is sincere about their approach to the problem. but i think at the end of the
2:31pm
day, what's going to prevail here is common sense. with that, i would yield. a senator: would the senator from south carolina yield for just one second? mr. graham: yes, sir. mr. manchin: sir, i appreciate so much your sincere approach. the only thing i would say is on mine and senator too many chic approach is not a universal background check. mr. graham: i agree with that. absolutely. you have taken a more limited approach. i totally understand. mr. manchin: thank you. i appreciate that. thank you very much. a senator: mr. president, i rise today to give my first speech from the floor of the united states senate. mrs. warren:, i rise with the gratitude of a fearless people, gratitude for the nation's prayers, strength, and resolve.
2:32pm
two days ago there was a cowardly and despicable terrorist attack in the city of boston. two times blasts from hidden bombs rocked the streets of copley square. two times courageous bostonians ran toward danger to help their fellow citizens. three were killed, more than 170 are wounded, many remain in critical condition. two days ago was patriot's day in massachusetts. patriot's day is one of our most cherished holidays. we celebrate the lives of ordinary men and women who, in the hour of reckless darkness and peril and need, rose before dawn in lexington and concord and let the world know that liberty and freedom, a government of the people, would be established on this earth.
2:33pm
we celebrate patriot's day with reenact. s and pancake breakfasts, with baseball and the boston marathon. the marathon is always the greatest of celebrations. we love the speed of the winners, the endurance of the participants, we love the passion of the supporters. but as the scripture says, the race is not to the swift, the battle not to the strong, but time and chance happeneth to them all. to all the families who lost their children, to all those who were injured and wear the scars of tragedy, to all the citizen heroes, the first responders, the healers who acted with courage in the midst of chaos, to all those who bore witness at boylston stright, an street, ane
2:34pm
people of boston and massachusetts, no one can replace what we have lost. no one can relieve the weight of our sorrow. but here today and in the days and weeks ahead, wherever we are, we will grieve together, hurt together, and pray together. and so today i rise to remember the lives of those we have lost, to support those who survived, and to honor those who served. today we remember martin richard, an 8-year-old who, like third graders everywhere, spent time drawing pctz, a little boy who loved to play soccer, baseball and football in his neighborhood, we also pray for
2:35pm
his sis at the and mother to recover from their injuries. we remember kryisal, lively and happy, crystal was always there for others. when her grandmother was recovering from an operation, krystal moved in to him her because that'sed kind of young woman she was. we remember lou link zhi, who came to the united states from china to study statistics. she loved ben & jerry's ice cream and she posted to her friends that morning that she had a wonderful breakfast. her passing unites the world in our common humanity. we will miss them. to those you who were injured on the 15th of april, know that we are here for you. every year during the marathon we are one family. we cheer for each other, we
2:36pm
carry each other across finish lines. when tragedy strikes, we are all still one family. we hurt together and we help together. in the weeks and months ahead, your struggles will be our struggles. your pain, our pain. your efforts, our efforts. we will be together through sorrow and anger, rehabilitation and recovery. we will be together because we are one family. and to those who served, we honor you. in ancient times, the heroes of myth and wil legend were part mortal, part god, because it was thought that no mortal man or woman could truly be great.
2:37pm
this week the people of boston and the people of this country proved the ancients wrong. our heroes are our friends and our neighbors. they work in copley and at children's, and when they were called to act, they answered. there was the man in a cowboy hat who came to copley to hand out american flags in memory of his sons. when the bombs went off, he reagan administrationed to help a young man who -- he raced to help a young man who lost both his legs, lifting the man into a wheelchair and navigating him through the chaos so he could get medical attention. there was the man who realized that spectators would be trapped by the barricades and started to remove them, only to be hit by the second blast. bandaged and burned, he told me yesterday that he was glad and
2:38pm
celebrated. not because he lived but because he helped. there were the marathoners who ran past the finish line to mass general, unconcerned with their own sweat and tears but resolved to donate their blood. there were the brave firefighters, police officers, e.m.s., guard, coordinating the first response and bringing protection in the wake of peril. there were world-class hospitals, doctors, nurses, support staff who refused to accept fatigue and worked through the night. there were friends, strangers, neighbors, and shopkeepers who gave a home to everyone who was stranded, food to those who were hungry, and comfort to all who needed it. and across this nation, whether on facebook or peoplefinder, monday the whole country was
2:39pm
connected to boston. our city, our commonwealth, and our country have been through a grim ordeal. we have seen terror before, but we will not be afraid and we will not let it change us. bostonians are tough. we are fighters, and we will not be broken. yesterday i met a woman recovering in the hospital, badly injured, clearly in pain. she focused on getting back to work. she said, people counted on her, so she'd be back soon. that is the strength and resilience of boston. our spirit is indomitable, our will is unyielding, our governor and our mayor have demonstrated
2:40pm
unwavering resolve. the men and women of law enforcement are hard at work, and in the coming hours, days, and weeks when we learn more from their investigations, we will identify who did this and we will bring them to justice. in times of calamity, in times like this, we must remember the words of john winthrop, who counseled the founders of bost boston. "to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our god, for this end, we must be knit together in this work as one m man. we must delight in each other, make others' conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer
2:41pm
together. so shall we keep the unity of the spirit and the bond of pea peace." may god bless those who have gone and leave them in peace. may he support those who survive and help them carry forward. may he protect those who serve their fellow man. and may he always watch over the people of boston, of massachusetts, and of these united states of america. thank you. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to consideration of senate resolution 101 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 101, condemning the horrific attacks in boston, massachusetts, and
2:42pm
expressing support, sympathy, and prayers for those impacted by this tragedy. ferraro is there objectiothe prs there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mrs. warren: i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. cowan: on monday, an
2:43pm
historic holiday in the commonwealth of massachusetts was marred by a detestable act of violence. dozens of innocent civilians gathered to watch an iconic, peaceful athletic event. they were injured by explosions and three lives were lost. i am honored today to joining the senior senator from the commonwealth of massachusetts, senator warren, in offering the resolution honoring the heroes and remembering the victims of that horrible day. we continue to pray for the injured and hope they begin to heal, and we mourn those who were killed and the families who survive them. as a community, our hearts ached to hear about the youngest victim, martin richard, a vibrant 8-year-old, a boy from dorchester, the same age as my son, who came to watch his father finish the marathon, lost his life.
2:44pm
we share in his family's grief and continue to send our prayers to his mother and his sister who are still in the hospital with very serious injuries. yesterday we struggled to watch patty campbell fight back tears as she talked about her beautiful and always smiling daughter crystal. this 29-year-old woman from arlington, and lindsey lou, a boston university graduate student who was from th a city n china, were also taken from us. events like those of monday remind us, yes, that evil still exists in the world. but these events also remind us of how unified and resilient the american people are. mr. president, while the city of boston witnessed terror, we also witnessed remarkable displays of bravery, support, kindness, and compassion.
2:45pm
the nation and the world saw the best of the people in the commonwealth during monday's tragic events. countless residents showed such strength and grace in the face of this terrible tragedy. i'm in awe of the bravery shown by our police, fire, and emergency personnel. i'm so proud of the medical providers, volunteers, and spectators who rushed towards the noise and smoke to help the injured even as they themselves remained in imminent danger. they helped to evacuate the victims and worked into night and the following days to offer care and protection. doctors, nurses, residents, and volunteers worked and continue to work in some of the best hospitals in the nation right there in boston to save lives and help victims recover. i'm also grateful for the support the commonwealth has received from the president, national law enforcement, and my colleagues here in the
2:46pm
congress. the people of the commonwealth are comforted that the federal resources needed to help care for the victims and to bring to justice those responsible for this assault will be provided. we appreciate that these tangible actions by the federal government represent the intangible support given to us by citizens in every state across this nation. and as we remember those lost and injured, we know that what is good about the human spirit will triumph over the cowards who attacked us. and make no mistake, we will find them and justice will be done. the city of boston, the commonwealth of massachusetts, and the american people will come together and overcome this senseless tragedy. you may visit terror upon us, but we will never be terrorized. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona.
2:47pm
mr. mccain: mr. president, given the importance of this debate, i believe it's important for me to explain to my colleagues and my constituents why i am supporting amendment number 715 offered by senators manchin and toomey, to ask -- s. 649 the safe schools communities act of 2013. like all americans my heart goes out to the people of newtown, connecticut, aurora, colorado, tucson, arizona and all other cities and towns impacted by senseless gun violence. these tragic events are impossible to fully comprehend unless you were there and extremely difficult to relate to unless you experience the effects personally. the rest of us are left with more questions than answers, and differing albeit well mentioned solutions designed to preserve our way of life, while doing our best to ensure these
2:48pm
horrible events are less likely tomorrow. as everyone is aware, in january of 2011, the citizens of my home state as well as people around the country and the world were shocked and horrified by the senseless violence of a severely disturbed young man with a gun. six people were killed and 13 injured. one of those victims was a bright young congressional staffer named gabe zimmerman who was highly regarded by his colleagues and had a future filled only with promise. yesterday here in the capitol at a room dedication for gabe zimmerman, we were provided with a very real portrait of a man who was doing what he loved, serving the people of arizona when his life was tragically cut short. i think his father's comments are worth repeating today. ross zimmerman, gabe's father, said -- quote -- "an echo of
2:49pm
gabriel will persist perhaps for centuries. it isn't worth the loss, but the echo is good and true. i ask that you and our descendants take inspiration from my son's echo as you conduct the affairs of this congress and the affairs of this nation." another life impacted by those tragic events is that of congresswoman gab reel giffords -- gab reel giffords. her life was inalterably changed that way. congresswoman giffords and her loving husband, captain mark kelly, were goat both with us here in washington today to witness this debate, reflect the determination of the american spirit and are beautiful examples of how good really does triumph over evil. gabby and mark and the countless other examples of heroism and resilience that america witnessed in tucson, you aurora, newtown newtown and elsewhere
2:50pm
around the nation are clear reminders of why we are all here serving and the gravity of the issues we are asked to address. their presence here today further reminds us that we are here to serve a cause greater than our own self-interest. there's nothing like looking in the eyes of a still-grieving parent who has just lost a young son or daughter to remind you of that fact. for over three decades in congress i have built as strong a record as anyone in this body in defending the second amendment. i have consistently opposed the efforts of antigun activists to ban guns and ammunition, strawnchly defendanting the constitutional rights that arizonans hold dear. i have voted against stawbs bans because i believe they would not work and opposed efforts to cripple firearms manufacturers by making them liable for the acts of violent criminals. i have proudly lent my signatures to supreme court
2:51pm
briefs defending an individual's right to bear arms. in my view, the wisdom of our framers' inclusion of the right to bear arms is self-evident and as an arizonan i understand the significance of gun ownership to the people of the west, whether for self-defense, sport, or simple ownership. just as i have long defended the second amendment to the constitution, i've also along believed it is perfectly reasonable to use available tools to conduct limited background checks as this amendment prescriebsd to help -- prescribes to help ensure that felons and the mentally ill do not object obtain guns they should not possess. in my view, such background checks are not overly burdensome or unconstitutional. is this a perfect solution? no. would it prevent all future acts
2:52pm
of gun violence? of course not. would it have prevented the most recent acts of gun violence? in all likelihood, no. but it is reasonable and it is my firm conviction that it is constitutional. i approach the issue of gun rights with profound respect for our constitution and the freedoms and rights that it bestows on each and every one of us. i'm also guided by a firm commitment that we should do everything we can within the bounds of the constitution and the principles of individual rights and federalism on which it is based to stem the rising tide of gun violence in this country. in this instance, neither the united states supreme court nor the lower federal courts have held that restrictions on possession for certain classes of individuals violate the second amendment. in heller v. the district of columbia, the court held that the second amendment protects an individual's rights to a
2:53pm
well-armed militia. in his majority opinion, justice scalia observed -- quote -- "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill. our laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings or laws imposing conditions and qualification ons the commercial sale of arms." in this instance i agree with justice scalia that a background check system is not a restriction of the second-amendment right to keep arms. the issue is plain to me because a background check system only seeks to ensure that sellers of firearms do not transfer guns to a prohibited class of owners. restrictions on ownership by certain classes of people have existed in federal law for 45 years and not have been constitutionally invalidated by the courts. in addition to constitutional
2:54pm
concerns, many have expressed concerns about the establishment of a national gun registry. if this amendment would establish such a registry, i would oppose it, but it does not. in fact, the amendment reinforces the existing federal law of a national firearms registry. the amendment explicitly states nothing in this title or any amendment made by this title shall be construed to allow the establishment, directly or indirectly, of a federal firearms registry. but the amendment does not stop there. i would also provide for a harsh penalty of 15 years for any person who attempts to create a registry and reaffirms that any regulations issued by the department of justice to ensure criminals and the mentally ill do not obtain firearms cannot create a firearms registry. mr. president, every once in a while i've seen some acts of
2:55pm
political courage. quite often, we praise each other and ourselves, directly or indirectly, for the positions we take and the votes that we pass. i'd like to just take a moment and express my appreciation to the two sponsors of this amendment. senator manchin and senator toomey. both come from states where there are avid and dedicated and legitimate gun rights advocates. it would have been easy for both senator manchin and senator toomey to ignore this situation and not reach across the aisle to each other to see if we could come up with what i think most americans -- in fact, i've seen polls that 80% of the american people support reasonable background checks
2:56pm
that do not infringe on the constitutional rights of our citizens. so i want to congratulate both senator manchin and senator toomey for taking this position. you may not win today, i say to my two colleagues, but i will say that you did the right thing. you did the right thing and it's been my experience as a senator in this body for some years who has not always done the right thing, but doing the right thing is always a reward in itself. and sooner or later, this country will take up this issue and it will take up the mentally ill issue and it will take up i hope hollywood violence and i hope it will take up those programs that may incite young people to go out and want to acquire a weapon and use it. but what they have tried to do today i think is an act that
2:57pm
should be appreciated by those of us who many times avoid taking the tough decisions, and i think they're an example to all of us. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. manchin: would the senator yield? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: would the senator yield for a second, senator mccain? let me just say to senator mccain, i thank you, sir. i truly do. because with your busy schedule and everybody knows how many directions you're pulled and how you're going, you took time to read it. you took time to see that we did not invade anybody's private transactions. you took time to see that basically we had a commission on mass violence that would look at our culture of violence in this country and i can only thank you. for someone of the stature you have in this body to take time to go through that bill word by word and know that it really does protect our second-amendment right, it does
2:58pm
the thing that we try to do in a comprehensive way. i just want to say thank you, sir. mr. mccain: i thank my colleague. a senator: mr. president? mr. harkin: i call up my amendment which is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the amendment. the clerk: the senator froma i iowa, mr. harkin for himself and others proposes amendment numbered 730. mr. harkin: i ask further reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: today i'm offering this bipartisan amendment with my colleague, ?osh alexander and several -- senator alexander and several other members of the health, education and pensions committee to authorize programs authorized by the departments of health and human services related to mental health conditions and the promotion of linkages for children and youth. the tragic shooting in newtown, connecticut in december brought the issue of mental health care to the forefront of the public dplog dlog. many people across the nation
2:59pm
including the president have said that we need to take a long, hard look at access to mental health services across the country. i was pleased to have the opportunity to start that backlog dlog with my colleagues -- dialogue with my colleagues on the help committee committee in january when we examined the state of our nation's mental health care system. a starting point of any conversation about mental health is recognizing that one of the most insidious stereos types about people with mental illness is that they are inherently violent. it is deeply regrettable that some of the discussion in the wake of the newtown tragedy has sadly enforced this stereotype. as my colleagues in the senate know and as the president has emphasized people with mental illness are much more likely to be victims of violent crimes than they are to be perpetrators of acts of violence. however, for far too long, mental health care has not been at the forefront of our public
3:00pm
dialogue. we fight the fact that mental illness affects one in four americans every year and serious mental illness affects one in 17. unfortunately, there is still a sigma -- stigma associated with mental illness and that results in too many people suffering in silence without access to the care that could significantly improve their lives. unlike many other chronic diseases, mental health problems often begin at a young age. half of all mental illnesses manifest themselves by age 14. another quarter appearing by age 24. however, less than half of the children with an identified -- with an identified -- eye mental health illness receive treatment. and the average lag time from the first onset of symptoms to receiving treatment is almost a decade. that's right, ten years. this lack of treatment has huge consequences. some 30,000 americans die by suicide each year and it's a
3:01pm
shocking fact that people with serious mental illness die 25 years earlier than americans overall. the shame in this is that with access to the right treatments and supports, most people with mental illnesses can recover and lead productive and healthy lives. but we need to make the critical investments that will enable this to happen and this amendment is about making those investments. in the past several years, we have made two important steps forward in mental health care. first, in 2008, the congress passed the paul wellstone and pete domenici mental health parity and addiction equity act. this long overdue law put an end to the absurd practice of treating mental and physical illnesses as two different things under health insurance. we followed this up under the affordable care act by requiring coverage for mental health and substance abuse disorders as an essential benefit in the health insurance plans that will come on the exchanges this fall. now, building on these reforms,
3:02pm
we starred working in the help committee a few months ago to put together a targeted package to address some of the most pressing mental health care challenges in schools and communities. as i said las, last week our committee unanimously passed and reported out the mental health awareness and improvement act, which is the amendment that i just called up. the first title of this amendment provides a number of strategies to make sure we are addressing the current -- the concerns of students with mental health needs, starting with prevention and early detection. i worked with senators bennett, alexander, and murphy on language in our amendment that encourages schools to develop and implement schoolwide prevention and early intervention programs, such as positive behavior interventions and supports. such schoolwide programs each every single student in a school every grade, every classroom. we also need to help schools link to mental health services.
3:03pm
an n.i.h. study found that most mental health services for school-age children were provided in schools, but schools don't always have the expertise to deal with those services. and so we worked with senator frank tone direct the department of -- franken to direct the department of education to direct grants that would link local schools to community-based mental health services. that's also encompassed in this amendment. finally, this title allows for the use of elementary and secondary education act title 1 funds, title 1 money to creator update school crisis management plans. these plans are key to ensuring the safety of all students and school personnel. now, that's title 1. mr. president, the second title of this amendment focuses on programs at the department of health and human services. i worked with my coleagues, senator reid and senator murkowski, to reauthorize the garrett lee smith memorial act which focuses on suicide prevention on college campuses and through grants to the states. the bill authorizes also, in
3:04pm
title 2, the mental health awareness training grants, a commonsense idea introduced by senators begich, blumenthal and ayotte to train school and emergency personnel, as well as other individuals, to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness. to become familiar with mental health resources in the community, and to safely de-escalate crisis situations. i worked with senator miles an houwith senator murray tostrengh initiative also encompassed in this amendment. this has a network of child trauma centers to collect reporting of data including ed-based treatments and interventions -- evidence-based treatments and interventions for children and their families who have experienced trauma. i also worked with senator sanders to authorize and improve the national violent death reporting system at the center for disease control and prevention which provides valuable information about violent deaths so we can look for ways to prevent them.
3:05pm
again, all of this is encompassed in the amendment that i just called up. finally, the amendment calls for additional information to be gathered on mental health services for children, integrating mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment with primary care and the implementation of recommendations made after the virginia tech tragedy in 2007. so i want to thank colleagues on both sides of the aisle for contributing many of the important concepts in the bill which is this amendment and i urge support for this amendment. and before i yield the floor, mr. president, let me also join with a number of my colleagues i know who've been on the floor today and before in expressing my appreciation both to senators manchin and to senator toomey for their great leadership that they've provided in bringing this bill forward and for the background checks that we'll be voting on later on this afternoon. i think it's another example around here which maybe people
3:06pm
learn it too late -- i don't know -- but you don't know what kind of agreements you reach until you sit down and talk to people. you may think that you're miles apart on an issue -- and maybe you are when you start -- but by talking and working things out, you can reach good agreements. and i think this is an example of one. i just -- the one element that i would add to that is the bill that -- the amendment i just called up which puts an important part in this bill dealing with mental health services both in schools, to children, and out of schools. and i think it's just, again, a very important part of, again, what we ought to be doing to reduce violence and to -- to respond to the mental health care needs of our young people. so again i want to thank senator manchin and senator toomey for their tremendous leadership on this important issue. i yield the floor. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
3:07pm
senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, you know, watching this debate, i see on some -- at some points where the senate actually wants to stand up and be the conscience of the nation but unfortunately some quickly want to step back from that precipice and be the conscience of a lobby on one side or the other. now, being the conscience, we saw that last thursday when the senate rejected the ill-conceived filibuster against considering the safe communities, safe schools act of 2013. not a difficult thing to do in our conscience because the vast majority of the american people did not want a filibuster, they wanted to have -- they wanted us
3:08pm
to have the courage to stand up and vote "yes" or "no" not vote "maybe" which is what a filibuster is. and after considering the bipartisan efforts of senator manchin and senator toomey to plug loopholes in the background check system, there will be another alternative by ranking republican on the senate judiciary committee, senator grassley -- which i'll speak of in a moment -- and then my bipartisan amendment to prevent criminals from circumventing the existing background check syst system. i'd like to talk about what senator collins and i have. that's amendment number 713. in fact, mr. president, i ask to call up my amendment number 713.
3:09pm
the leahy-collins amendment. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from vermont, mr. leahy, for himself and others, proposes an amendment numbered 713. mr. leahy: i ask consent that further reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: now this amendment makes some changes to the stop illegal trafficking in firearms act. our act is designed to give law enforcement the necessary tools to combat practice -- combat the practice of straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms. that's where somebody will go in and legally buy, say, a handgun for $500 but then turn around and sell it for $1,500 to a drug cartel or somebody who could not buy it. and they're usually buying a lot more than one weapon, they're buying a whole lot. they'll buy them legally and then sell them to people who never could have bought them. we've seen what's that done in mexico with the drug cartels.
3:10pm
we've seen what it's done with the drug cartels and gangs in some of our major cities. so i -- i commend senator collins for working to develop this amendment and for her strong support of the law enforcement officials who requested this legislation. we heard from law enforcement officials across the country saying they wanted to keep their communities safe. and this stop illegal trafficking in firearms act, originally introduced as s. 54, will make important changes to bertie quip law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute -- not just investigate but to be able to prosecute the all-too-common practice of straw purchasing. as i said, those are people who are not prohibited by federal law, they purchase a firearm on behalf of a prohibited person or actually at the direction of a drug trafficker or other
3:11pm
criminal or their organizations. and that's how these large criminal organizations are supported. that's how these illegally obtained guns are often sold and resold across state lines. and, of course, it results in the proliferation of illegal firearms and gun violence in our communities and gun trafficking and straw purchasing make our communities less safe. we just saw recently where a woman was arrested who bought as a straw purchaser a weapon for a man who then, it appears from the evidence, used it to kill the head of the colorado prison system. he was blocked from buying a weapon. somebody else bought it for him. and we made it very clear the
3:12pm
changes we have here, that senator collins and i intend no adverse effect impacting law-abiding gun owners. we consulted with a lot of people on this. law enforcement, prosecutors, victims and the national rifle association. we -- both gun owners and -- and others. and i think what we've done is brought together some very diverse views, the kind of things that legislators are supposed to do. and we want to combat the instructivthedestructive practiw purchasers and firearms trafficking. and our amendment has all of the important provisions of the measure that was debated and voted on by the judiciary committee and passed out with a bipartisan majority. and then we had a report filed
3:13pm
in relation to it that made plain our intent the meaning of the bill. the clarifying language likewise ensures that lawful gun purchasers can buy firearms from licensed dealers as bona fide gifts or rastle or raffles or ct prizes and so on. now, throughout our committee process, throughout our discussions, no one's questioned the constitutionality of these provisions or the fact that they are -- and they've all accepted the fact that they will help law enforcement. what i did was work with senator collins and senator durbin, senator gillibrand and others to provide a realworld, not an abstract but a realworld, commonsense solution to the problem of gun trafficking and straw purchasing. now, there's wide agreement that straw purchasing and illegal gun trafficking has to be stopped.
3:14pm
that's why law enforcement so strongly supports our amendment. in fact, we introduced it because law enforcement said that for years they've lacked the legal tools to combat illegal straw purchasing. and it's supported by the national fraternal order of police, the federal law enforcement officers associati association, the international association of chiefs of police, the major cities chiefs association, the f.b.i. agent association, the national district attorney's association, an organization which i was privileged to serve as vice president, all nine-member organizations of the national law enforcement and partnership to prevent gun violence -- i mention all these things because we took months doing this, we met with everybody. we worked, we listened to opposing views and supportive views, then had hearings, then had a markup.
3:15pm
but all of a sudden late this morning, with no hearings, no markup, no chance to debate it, we have a partisan alternative led by some members of the senate judiciary committee. people always speak about regular order, but none of these provisions were considered through regular order. none of them were offered or debated in committee. all of a sudden, wait, whoa, we can't have this thing the law enforcement wants. we can't have this thing that might actually stop drug cartels and organized crime from getting these guns. we suddenly come up with a new idea this morning. sorry, don't have time to talk about it. sorry we don't have time to have hearings. sorry we can't go through the
3:16pm
committee. sorry we can't have votes. trust us. as chairman of the senate judiciary committee, i took my responsibility seriously when the committee considered gun violence legislation. we held three hearings. we had four lengthy markups. and there are many, many amendments circulated and we debated them. the distinguished presiding officer is a member of that committee. he was there for all of those hearings. he was there for all of that debate. they went on sometimes for a long time, but we voted up or down. and we worked to broker bipartisan compromises. and the results? some of the same members who serve on the senate judiciary committee circulate this lengthy substitute just hours before the scheduled vote on a weak and counterproductive alternative. weak and counterproductive
3:17pm
alternative. and this weak and counterproductivive alternative, this partisan substitute has not been the subject of one single hearing or any committee debate or vote. but, what the lengthy partisan substitute does, it does several things. to make our communities less safe. but one of the provisions directly undermines what senator collins and i are trying to accomplish. we want to stop trafficking. we want to stop drug cartels and organized crime and bank robbers and those who would murder government officials. we want to stop them from being able to get these guns through straw purchases.
3:18pm
well, what this alternative republican amendment does, the one that was suddenly sprung on us with no hearings, no votes late today, it actually has a road map of how to avoid prosecution, how to do the things that drug cartels want and organized crime want and to make sure you never get prosecuted for it. as long as straw purchasers ask no questions, bury their heads in the sand, they can't be held accountable. they can buy these guns, meet somebody in a back alley who is trying to hide his face and said, well, i could have bought this legally. give it to me. here's your money. i'll give you a 300% profit, and they get away with it.
3:19pm
it helps mexican drug cartels by eliminating the need to combat violence -- the presiding officer: the senator is advised that the time has expired. mr. leahy: i hope we would not pass it, not strip state and federal law enforcement from trying to protect us. i'd ask my full statement and my statement on manchin-toomey-lautenberg and barrasso amendments be included in the record as though read at the appropriate place. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i yield the floor. mr. cruz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: mr. president, i rise today to speak on the grassley-cruz substitute amendment. this amendment has come through the extended process of consideration of legislation, and indeed i think this
3:20pm
amendment has come to pass precisely the way the process should operate, as a result of mull pell hearings in the -- multiple hearings in the judiciary committee, taking witness testimony, examining what the evidence demonstrates is the problem and then endeavoring to craft a solution that multiple senators have contributed to and has been a long collaborative process. at this point this amendment has over 20 cosponsors, and i am hopeful and believe that when it comes to a vote it will receive some significant bipartisan support. in my view, the approach of the federal government to violent crime should be very simple. it should be focused on stopping violent criminals. and we should devote every resource to stopping violent criminals from committing
3:21pm
horrific acts of violence. every one of us was horrified at the crime in newtown, connecticut, at the senseless -- mr. leahy: would the senator yield for a question? mr. cruz: i'm happy to yield. mr. leahy: the senator suggested this went through the process and all through the judiciary committee. i've been on that committee for 36 years, been chairman for a number of years. i don't recall when this happen. would you tell me when. was it ever voted on? did we ever have a markup? did we ever have a hearing on it? mr. cruz: as the distinguished chairman is well aware, this amendment was not put before the committee, but it is as a result of the process in the committee, the testimony that was given in multiple hearings that i was honored to attend with the chairman, with our presiding officer. and it is in response to that testimony and that evidence that over 20 senators have come together to craft legislation
3:22pm
that actually addresses the problem. indeed, i would note my biggest concern with the legislation, the democrat legislation on the floor is it doesn't address the problem. it doesn't target violent criminals. instead what it does is it targets law-abiding citizens. and if we are to be effective in stopping violent crime -- and i have confident every member of this body wants to do everything we can to stop violent criminals from harming innocents among us. the approach that is effective, in my judgment, is targeting violent criminals while at the same time safeguarding the constitutional rights of law-abiding americans. and that's exactly what this substitute does. i want to talk about several aspects of it, all of which are directed to targeting bad actors, to targeting violent
3:23pm
criminals rather than law-abiding citizens. one of the disturbing things that we discovered in the course of these extended hearings in the judiciary committee is that the obama justice department has not made it a priority to prosecute felons and fugitives who attempt to illegally purchase firearms. indeed we learned that in 2010 over 48,000 felons and fugitives attempted to illegally purchase firearms. of those 48,000, the obama justice department prosecuted only 44. that's 44 out of over 48,000. and at the hearing, we saw a police chief who yelled at a senator and said he didn't have time to worry about paperwork violations. i would submit, mr. president,
3:24pm
that if a convicted felon is trying to illegally buy a gun, that's not a paperwork violation. and that is a prime area for focusing law enforcement resources to figure out why that felon wants a gun and to go and prosecute him. if a fugitive fleeing from justice tries to illegally purchase a gun, we need to have the resources to prosecute it. one of the things this bill does is creates a task force in the departments of justice devoted to prosecuting felons and fugitives who attempt to illegally purchase guns. and it provides $50 million, $10 million a year over five years, to give the additional resources to make sure that when the felons and fugitives try to illegally purchase guns, we go after them, we prosecute them, we put them away and we prevent them from acquiring those guns and using them in horrific acts of violence. a second aspect of this
3:25pm
substitute focuses on gun crimes. instances where felons use a gun in the commission of a crime. in 1997 in richmond, the u.s. attorney there pioneered a program called project exile which was tremendously successful. and i would note that was a u.s. attorney under a democratic president, bill clinton, and project exile put serious federal resources to prosecuting under federal law anyone who uses a gun in the commission of the crime. and as a result of that innovative plan, we saw tremendous success. in 1997, before project exile had been implemented, richmond had the third-highest murder rate in the nation. in 1998, after project exile was
3:26pm
implemented, homicides dropped 33%. the next year in 1999, homicides dropped an additional 21%. it was a program that worked. when president george w. bush was elected, he expanded the program with project safe neighborhoods, focused the saoeupl -- same. unfortunately, under the current administration, this has not been a priority. indeed, firearms cases, prosecutions have dropped 30% in the obama justice department. all of us are united in wanting to stop violent crime, and in particular stop violent crime with firearms. i would suggest the most effective way to do so is ensure that we are prosecuting violent criminals who use firearms. and for that reason, this
3:27pm
amendment creates a national project exile that would in particular focus on the 15 jurisdictions with the highest violent crime rates and three tribal jurisdictions with the highest crime rates. and it would devote $45 million -- $15 million a year for three years -- for more assistant u.s. attorneys and agents to pros violent gun crimes. to target exactly who we want to target: violent criminals. a third element -- and i would note as well, actually before we get to the third element, i would note as well that this legislation also includes new language criminalizing straw purchasing, criminalizing trafficking, but doing so in a way that targets bad actors and doesn't sweep innocent,
3:28pm
law-abiding citizens inadvertently into its reach. a third area of focuses is school safety. unfortunately, the obama administration in the past several years reduced funding for school safety by over $300 million. next to me are detailed the security our cools stkpwrapbts were cut $110 million in 2012. school safety initiative was cut $53 million in 2011. and the safe and drug-free schools grants were cut $184 million in 2010. this substitute restores funding for school safety. if the effort is to protect our kids -- and i know all 100 senators want to do everything we can to protect our kids. one of the most direct ways is to make sure there are resources
3:29pm
on the ground protecting our kids. and so this bill would provide $3400 million in funding -- $300 million in funding, 30 million a year for ten years, to do exactly that, to provide funding for the secure our schools grants. a fourth area is improving the existing background checks as it concerns mental illness. if you look for a common theme among these mass murderers that we have seen recent years, one of the most disturbing things is we've seen person after person with serious mental illness accessing firearms and using them to commit horrific acts of violence. one of the real problems with our existing background check system is some 18 states have essentially refused to comply with reporting mental health
3:30pm
records. some 18 states have reported fewer than 100 records to the background check system. now, if adjudications of someone as a danger to others, have a serious mental illness that makes them a danger to others, if those adjudications are not reported to the background check system, then the existing system cannot operate. i would note my home state of texas has devoted considerable efforts to reporting those records, and indeed over 200er,000 mental health records have been reported from the state of texas to ensure that those with serious mental illness who are a danger to others are prevented from accessing firearms. if the objective is to stop violent crime, then it seems to me we should focus on criminals. and i would note that quite intuitive statement is not one in which i am alone in viewing
3:31pm
it that way. just recently, a survey was done of over 15,000 law enforcement professionals about what measures would be effective stopping violent crime. 79. 7% of law enforcement officials say expanded background checks would not be effective in stopping violent crime. 71% of law enforcement professionals said the assault weapons ban being considered by this body would not be effective in stopping violent crime, and interestingly enough, 20.5% of law enforcement officials said if the assault weapons ban were passed it would actually make violent crime worse. and 95.7% of law enforcement professionals, virtually unanimous, said the magazine restrictions there are restrictg
3:32pm
considered by this body would not be effective at stopping violent crime. i would suggest that we should listen to the men and women on the ground, to the prisers who risk their -- to the police officers who risk their lives defending yodefending us, defenr children, and we should trust their assessment. i'd like to make two fin final observations. one, there has been considerable discussion about expanding background checks. right now background checks are required of any individual who purchasing a firearm from a licensed federal firearms dealer. that's the existing system and the system that the amendment that i'm proposing would work to improve. there's an amendment pending before this body to expand that system significantly and in particular to cross a threshold that has not previously been crossed; to require federal government background checks for purely private sales between private individuals.
3:33pm
if an individual wants to sell, for example, his shotgun, and he puts an ad in craig's list ties advertising that shotgun, under the pending bill, by putting that ad on craig'sly, that individual would be required to submit to a federal background check, would be required to go to a federal firearms dealer to do so and would of necessity have to pay whatever fee was set. and i would note that that fee could well be are substantial. we don't know that fee would be, but do know the district of columbia right now charges $150 to conduct a background check. and if the fee turned out to be anything on the order of what the district of columbia charges, the effect of passing that bill would essentially be a federal government penalty, potentially as much as $150, on an individual that wanted to
3:34pm
sell his or her shotgun or rifle to another law-abiding disme -- law-abiding citizen in a purely tryst transaction. if the objective is to stop violent crime, in all of the hearings we had before the judiciary committee, there was no evidence submitted that purely private transactions between private citizens were a significant source of firearms used in crimes and that regulating them would help reduce violent crime. indeed, as i said, one police chief stoled th told the commite didn't have time to prosecute felons and fujitives who were trying to illegally purchase firearms and guns. if they don't have time to prosecutor felons and fujitives, then i would suggest that they don't have time to prosecute private citizens in a private consensual sale when neither have chitted a crime, they are
3:35pm
law-abiding citizens. that's not an effective o.a.s. - that's not an effective use of law enforcement resources. but extending background checks to to private sails between private individuals, if it body did that it would put us inexorably on the path it a national gunning registry. the reason is simple. because by extending background checks to private transactions, the department of justice has been very candid about this, the national director of the national institute of justice explained that universal background checks with respect to them -- quote -- "effectiveness depends on requiring gun registration. " i'm happy to yield. mr. schumer: i appreciate that courtesy. i would ask my colleague this isn't it the case that the very background check proposed in toomey -- manchin-toomey is the same one that's been used for 17
3:36pm
years for f.f.l.'s, for fire firearm license ye's? isn't it the exact same one? mr. cruz: what is not the same is extending it to a private individual -- mr. schumer: but it is the same technique, the same entry into the work. mr. cruz: but what is consequence shall is extending it to private sell,not licensed dealers. the argument surely would be if this bill passed, the argument would immediately become, well, it's not -- it can't possibly be effective because we don't know who owns those firearms. mr. schumer: has my colleague in the last 17 years detected any move out of washington for national registration? any specific substantive move by e-t.f. rk the justice department or any other federal agency to begin a campaign, a move to any kind of national registration?
3:37pm
mr. cruz: in my opinion, adopting mandatory federal government background checks for purely private transactions between law-abiding citizens puts us in inexorably on the path to a push for a federal registry. mr. schumer: but my colleague hasn't detected any move of that yet? mr. cruz: it is not currently proposed but if the bill that is being considered were adopted, it would put us on that path, and i think that path would be profoundly unwise, and would be inconsistent with the second amendment right to keep and bear arms. mr. schumer: i thank my colleague for his courtesy. mr. manchin: would my colleague yield for quay? mr. cruz: ild i a i am happy to. man maven i am a little bit confused since it is mine and senator too many chic amendment. we don't -- we exclude all
3:38pm
private transactions. we did not even go close it a private transaction. ours is only at gun shows, gun stores and interstet sales, which is controlled now. mr. cruz: with respect shall the legislative language as i understand it is triggered whenever there is any form of advertisement, either on the internet, craig's list, the green sheet or anything else, and that sweeps in a whole category of new sellers, purely private sellers who are not commercial firearms dealers. commercial firearm dealers are already, as my friend is well aware, are already subject to significant regulation. shifting to a new category of private law-abiding citizens a major threshold and one that i think sun wise. mr. manchin: so the internet right now -- as i understand the law as we have it, without changing anything, mine or yours, if i buy from you in texas, you send knee gun, it has to go by law through a licensed dealer for me to go get a become
3:39pm
ground check to pick it up. we haven't changed that sir. all we've said is said if you buy in-state or out of state, they are they are a all the same. mr. cruz: it is not limited to the internet. it would afly listing on craigs list, to listing in the local newspaper. if an individual wanted to sell his or her firearm and advertised it any way, they would be potentially be guilty of a felony for noting about through the federal background check. and what i would suggest, and i want to be respectful of my time because i think i am nearing the conclusion of it, what i would suggest is all of us want to stop violent crime. in drafting this substitute, what a number of senators endeavored to do is look at the most effective proposals to do exactly that, to stop violent
3:40pm
crime. my view is, if you have a violent criminal, we should come down on them like a ton of bricks be. but, at the same time, we should be especially careful to safeguard the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. the second amendment is a critical part of the bil bill of rights. and each of us has taken an oath to defend the constitution, an oath that i know every senator takes quite seriously. and i would suggest there is no evidence to support the claim that regulating millions of law-abiding citizens who do not currently pose a threat would be remotely effective to stop violent crime. what it would do is increase the pressure substantially for a national gun registry. i would suggest instead shall the contrast between this substitute and democratic bill is striking. the democrat bill includes no additional resources for prosecution at all.
3:41pm
it doesn't focus on prosecuting criminals. and i would suggest that omission is rulely quite striking. and it is my hope that we're going to have a vote on background checks. this body will decide its view in terms of whether to expand those to private citizens. but i am hopeful that after that vote, when this substitute considered, that we will see some significant bipartisan agreement that let's provide the resourcesources pho to law enfot to go after violent criminals. let's do everything we can to stop violent crime and to protect the most vulnerable among us. mr. manchin: would the senator just yield for one quick time, sir? sir, if i may ask you, do you agree that a bill or amendment should be posted for 48 hours prior to voting? mr. cruz: is the senator suggesting that the senate should move these votes? mr. manchin: no, i'm just
3:42pm
saying, do you believe we should have 48 hours posting? mr. cruz: i think that is ordinarily the right borrows to follow. and in this case, this bill, this substitute took considerable time and was the result of extended negotiation among a great many senators, and i know my friend from west virginia has gone through those extended negotiations before and surely will again, and this was filed as soon as there was agreement that brought people together in an area that, it is my hope, we should be able to find consensus. we should be able to find consensus on targeting violent criminals. that's what this bill endeavors to do. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: i ask to address the senate for five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. first i want to thank my colleague from texas for his courtesy. i would like to address two issues here. first, the bill that my good friend from west virginia, my friend from pennsylvania, have worked on long and hard, that
3:43pm
senators kirk and i are sponsors of as well, and, second, scaled- concealed carry. i've always said that universal background checks are the swee sweetspot of this debate. sweetspot because it'll do the most good and has the best chance of passing. if this is the sweetspot, we should take advantage of it. let us not -- let us -- sorry. this is thif this is the sweetss step up to the plate and not make this a sorrow day. for those in newtown, for those whose families have been victims of gun violence and for all americans. the bottom line is simple: the brady law was passed in 1994. the anytime. cs system came into effect in 1999.
3:44pm
the very system of background checks that we are proposing has stopped 1.7 million transactions of guns being sold to felons. it is certain that tens of thousands of people are walking god's green earth because of the background checks required in the brady law. but those who have criminal intent and wish to get guns, even though they would not be allowed to under brady, find ways around it and they have. the two leading ways around it are the gun shows and sales on the internet. and this amendment is very simple. all it does is take the same method of background checks and the same method of recording those checks that we use now when you walk no a gun shop and afly to gun shows and to veals on the internet. no more, no less.
3:45pm
i have not seen any cry from the other side of the aisle to repeal the background checks mandated under the brady law. i have not seen any cry saying they don't work. we have simply seen that they don't cover 40%, approximately, of gun sales. the bill i originally introduced, i guess, is the gold standard. it covered them all. but in an effort to compromise, senators manchin and toomey with considerable courage worked with us, and now individual sales are not covered. but the sales on the internet and the sale at gun shows are. i say to some of my colleagues who have been allies in the pro-gun control movement, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. this a strong, good pill. i say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, the
3:46pm
only objection, the only objection we have heard to this bill, this proposal of senators manchin and toomey, kirk, and myself, is that it will lead to registration. well, then let me ask or let me refer to my colloquy with the senator from texas. has there been a single step towards registration as this system has been in place since 1999, 1 years? -- 14 years? not one. so why is it all of a sudden that if we extend these to gun shows and internet sales, registration will come down upon us like a plague within a matter of months? the argument -- and it is the only argument made against background checks, that this will cause registration to occur -- is a canard, plain
3:47pm
and simple. an excuse. because the opponents can't argue against the substance, they come up with this fearmongering tactic that this will lead to recommend straition and there is not one jot of evidence that the existing law, same as the new law we're proposing, has led to that. so i would urge my colleagues to step up to the plate. pass this amendment. i understand the views on assault weapons ban which i strongly support and limations on clips which i so believe in may not get a number of votes. but this one is close. this one is close, and in my judgment, this one will save more lives than any other. let us show the courage, let us show the wisdom, let us show the conviction that doing the right thing is the right political thing. and move it. and one more point, mr. president.
3:48pm
the argument of concealed carry, of reciprocal concealed carry would do devastation to the urban areas of new york, to treat the forests of wyoming like times square or yankee stadium would be wrong and i would urge we reject that as well. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mr. johanns: thank you, mr. president. i rise this afternoon to speak about the issue before us, gun violence, and the second amendment to the united states constitution. we have all been enormously saddened by the recent senseless acts of violence that have affected our nation. in congress, we have all been
3:49pm
deeply moved, and we are all motivated by the tragedies. however, unfortunately, the legislation currently before the senate would do virtually nothing to address the causes of this violence. this legislation in my judgment would take us down what i would regard as a dangerous path. rather than focusing on the underlying causes of gun violence, this legislation would place onerous restrictions on law-abiding americans who have a right and are exercising their second-amendment rights. it should trouble us that the first response to recent tragedies is to curtail the bill of rights. these rights were so incredibly
3:50pm
vital to the birth of this great nation, the founders specifically limited the power of the government to restrict these rights. but this legislation, in my judgment, goes beyond and pushes beyond those constitutional limits. the bill before us would have a number of adverse effects. for example, it would prevent a nebraskan from using a neighbor's shotgun to go trapshooting on a nearby farm. or an uncle from giving a niece a hunting rifle as a birthday gift, without receiving f.b.i. approval. as my colleague from iowa has pointed out, the deputy director of the national institute of justice has written that universal background checks can only be enforced if coupled
3:51pm
with national gun registration. this legislation, i agree with the senator from texas, would be a first step on the path toward a national gun registry. a far cry from the vision of our founders, who exercised this very fundamental right to secure our freedom. the fact is, had this legislation been law, it would not have prevented any of the recent atrocities that have affected families in our nation. now we will also have the opportunity to vote on a series of amendments. one such amendment we will consider is the so-called assault weapons ban. which would prohibit law-abiding citizens from poe sphwhressing certain -- possessing certain firearms based upon cosmetic characteristics. once again, this ban would do
3:52pm
little to prevent future gun violence. furthermore, i find it so incredibly ironic that its proponents think these weapons are a problem in the hands of law-abiding citizens, but apparently see no problem with the same weapons being glorified in hollywood movies and video games. apparently, we should ban these devices in rural nebraska where we grow up around firearms, but allow our children to idolize hollywood stars committing mass shootings on the big screen, and then try it out for yourself in a graphic video game where the game is interactive, violent, and you are literally shooting at people. at the end of the day, this
3:53pm
legislation is so incredibly flawed that no amount of tweaks or changes can ever possibly improve it. that's why i am a cosponsor of the senator from iowa's alternative, a complete substitute which seeks to address the root causes of gun violence. and correctly balances the need to secure our second-amendment rights. this amendment focuses on adequate enforcement of the gun laws currently on the books, as well as the mental health needs of our country. we owe it to the victims of gun violence to pass legislation that will actually address the causes of these tragedies. otherwise, they won't stop. and as senators who took an oath to uphold the constitution, we owe it to all americans to protect this fundamental right,
3:54pm
this right contained in the bill of rights, that is so vital to the very freedom we enjoy. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: mr. president, i rise to address this issue for five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. toomey: mr. president, first let me mention, i'm a gun owner. i have an a rating with the n.r.a. the second amendment is extremely important to me, to my constituents, to pennsylvanians generally, to americans generally. but let me be very clear about this, too. the second amendment does not apply equally to every single american. that is not even a controversial notion. the second amendment was never meant to apply to young children. nobody disputes that. the second amendment does not apply for people who forfeit their second-amendment rights by
3:55pm
committing crimes for which they're convicted. and it can't apply and does not apply to people who have been adjudicated as mentally dangerous. those are the three classes of americans for whom the second amendment does not apply, as it does and should and must for everyone else. and so the goal that senator manchin and senator schumer and senator kirk and i set out when we began this process -- and i want to really thank my friend from west virginia. he's worked harder than anybody on this. and senator schumer, who whose worked very hard as well, and senator kirk who from the beginning provided very important leadership on this. the goal was to see if we can find a way to make it a little bit more difficult for the people who have no legal right to have a gun, for them to obtain it. that's -- that was the goal. and along the way we thought if we can find some ways to better secure the opportunities for law-abiding citizens to exercise
3:56pm
their second-amendment rights, that would be terrific, to work into this, and we did that as well. so how do we attempt to make it a little bit more difficult for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to purchase handguns? we do it in essentially two ways. one is to just strengthen the existing background check system, by strengthen what i mean is, encourage states to provide the information that they already have and that some do provide but some don't. in other words, the states have records about people who have been adjudicated as dangerously mentally ill. for instance, those people who plead not guilty to a crime by reason of insanity. those people who are deemed to be mentally incompetent to stand trial. so we have records at the states of people who have been adjudicated as mentally unfit to have a firearm. and then, of course, it's states that have the criminal records. so all we're doing is
3:57pm
encouraging these states to provide this information so that when a criminal attempts to buy a handgun or a long gun, or when someone who is dangerously mentally ill attempts to do so, the background check system can capture them. that's the first big piece. it doesn't create a new system. it doesn't expand in any way the existing system except to encourage states to provide the information that they already have. the second thing we do is we ask to have background checks at gun shows. we already have background checks if you buy from a licensed dealer. in my state in pennsylvania, anyone who buys a handgun anywhere at any time has a background check. so what this would do in pennsylvania, it wouldstand background checks for commercial sales which are conducted at gun shows and for advertised sales over the internet. now, i've got to tell you there is absolutely no way that this
3:58pm
can be construed as an infringement on the second-amendment rights. and you don't have to take my word for this. but i would take justice scalia's word for this in the heller decision where he quite rightly came to the conclusion as did a majority of this supreme court, a conservative majority, came to the correct conclusion in my view that the second amendment is an individual right, it's not contingent on membership in a militia, not a collective right of multiple people. the founders didn't acknowledge collective rights. it's an individual, personal right. they were correct. but in that decision, justice scalia also observed that there is nothing unconstitutional about legislation that would limit or restrict and try to prevent the purchase of firearms by people who don't enjoy this right. so that's what we do. now, i know there's been a great deal of concern about
3:59pm
registration, a registry. no one would oppose a federal registry of firearms more than me. there's no need for the government to have one, and only bad things could result. fortunately, senator manchin and i are completely in agreement on this. while it's already illegal, we further strengthen the prohibition against that by stating in our -- in our amendment that any federal employee -- not just those who are members of the a.t.f. but any federal employee who even begins the process of compiling the data that could lead to a registry would be committing a felony subject to 15 years imprisonment. that's a pretty tough reality that anyone thinking -- even thinking about doing this, i think, would weigh very seriously. and thereby i believe strongly, we preclude the process built, the danger of an inappropriate registry. finally, i mentioned we enhance the opportunity for law-abiding citizens to enjoy their
4:00pm
second-amendment rights. we do it in a variety of ways. one is we clear up some risks that people take, law-abiding citizens traveling across multiple states, sportsmen, a hunter who packs a weapon quite properly but as he's traveling gets into a state that has a different regime. we clarify that that person's not committing any crimes or violating any laws. we allow the purchase of handguns out of state. they're subject to background checks, why not? we currently -- current law prohibits active duty military personnel from buying a weapon in a state, their home state. we repeal that as well. a similar measure to this, except without the benefits for second amendment supporters, an expansion of background checks was on the house floor in 1999. that bill was endorsed by the n.r.a. i voted for it. a majority of republicans voted fofor it. we did so because it was common sense. this isn't gun control.
4:01pm
this is common sense. this is a modest measure to increase the chances that we can keep guns out of the hands of people who have no legal right to have a gun. i think we're going to have a close vote today. i want to thank all my colleagues who've considered this and given us every opportunity to make our case. i want to again thank senators manchin and schumer and senator kirk for the very hard work they've done on this. and i urge them to support the manchin-toomey amendment. with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under ite previous order, there will be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to the vote in relation to amendment number 715, offered by the senator from west virginia, mr. manchin. the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: mr. president, thank you. let me just say, if you are committed to protecting the second amendment rights that you and i have as law-abiding citizens in this great country,
4:02pm
you should vote for this bill. if you desire for all our veterans to be treated with dignity and due process when they return from battle, you should vote for this bill. if you want to keep criminals and dangerously mental -- mentally ill people from purchasing guns at gun shows and on the internet, you should vote for this bill. and, mr. president, if you want to remember those 20 babies, beautiful children, and the six brave teachers and you want to honor the most courageous family members i have ever met in my life, please, consider you should vote for this bill. thank you, mr. president. the vice president: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: mr. president, thank you. by the way, we're the state that's got the first in the nation caucuses. the vice president: that's why i corrected myself, sir.
4:03pm
mr. grassley: i strongly oppose this amendment. expanded background checks would not have prevented newtown. criminals do not submit to background checks now. they will not submit to expanded background checks. the deputy director of the national institute of justice has written that background checks will work only if they are universal and are combined with gun registration. this amendment would start us down that road of registration. it would open, not close loopholes. it would require background checks when people advertise a gun for sale in their church bulletins or farm bureau newsletter. it protects people to federal criminal liability, up to five years of violation of state or local law, which, of course, is unprecedented. and the program provisions would actually reduce existing protections for law-abiding gun owners. i urge my colleagues to reject this dangerous and misguided approach. i yield the floor. and back my time.
4:04pm
the vice president: the question is on the amendment. is there a sufficient second? a senator: ask for the yeas and nays. the vice president: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
4:05pm
4:06pm
4:07pm
4:08pm
4:09pm
4:10pm
4:11pm
4:12pm
4:13pm
4:14pm
4:15pm
president: vote:
4:16pm
4:17pm
4:18pm
4:19pm
4:20pm
4:21pm
4:22pm
4:23pm
4:24pm
the vice president: there will be order in the senate.
4:25pm
4:26pm
4:27pm
the vice president: there will be order in the senate. the vote -- on this vote the yeas are 54. the nays are 46. under the previous order requiring 60 votes for the adoption of this amendment, the amendment is not agreed to. the majority leader. mr. reid: i make a motion to reconsider. the presiding reconsider. -- the vice president: the motion is entered.
4:28pm
there are two minutes of vote equally divided prior to the amendment offered, 725, by the senator from iowa, mr. grassley. who yields time? a senator: mr. president? the vice president: there will be order in the senate. the gallery will refrain from any demonstration or comment. the senator from texas. mr. cruz: mr. president, i rise to speak in favor of the grassley-cruz substitute. now that the previous vote has been taken, i would suggest that this is a bill that we all should be able to support. this is a bill that provides major resources to prosecuting violent criminals to going after felons, to going after fugitives, preventing them from getting guns. it provides resources for school safety. it provides additional resources to improve the background check
4:29pm
system and to encourage states to provide more records on mental health illness. this is a strong law enforcement bill, and i know everyone in this body, regardless of party, wants to act decisively to stop violent crime. and it would be a shame if this amendment is subject to a partisan vote which would result in inaction rather than us standing together to put law enforcement resources towards stopping violent crime. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. leahy: mr. president, could we have order? the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senator deserves to be heard. the president pro tempore is recognized. mr. leahy: mr. president, the argument that we just heard is absolutely upside down of what that amendment is. this amendment guts the bill. it guts straw purchasing, gun
4:30pm
trafficking. it totally undermines law enforcement. law enforcement strongly supports the next amendment we have, the leahy-collins. but all this does, this amendment could aid mexican drug cartels. it eliminates the tools being used to get law enforcement investigative leads. it undermines rather than strengthens the current background check. we talk about do we enforce our laws? if you want to gut our laws, which this one does, don't argue that it's not being enforced. this handcuffs law enforcement, helps drug cartels, helps crime syndicates, it's a bad amendment. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. the question is on the amendment. is there a second? there is a sufficient second? there appears to be. is there a sufficient second?
4:31pm
there appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
4:32pm
4:33pm
4:34pm
4:35pm
4:36pm
4:37pm
4:38pm
4:39pm
4:40pm
4:41pm
4:42pm
4:43pm
4:44pm
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 52, the nays are 48. under the previous order requiring 60 votes for the adoption of the amendment, this amendment is not agreed to.
4:45pm
under the previous order, there are now two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment number 713 offered by the senator from vermont, mr. leahy. the senate will be in order. senators listen oath sides deserve to be heard -- on both sides deserve to be heard. please take your conversations off the floor. the senior senator from vermont is recognized. mr. leahy: senator collins and i and senators in both parties worked with law enforcement, worked with the n.r.a., worked with a whole lot of others to craft this. it gives law enforcement officials the tools they need to stop the all-too-common practices of straw purchasing and illegal trafficking of firearms. this gives us the tools to go after drug cartels that use straw purchasers to get their
4:46pm
guns, gangs in big cities use straw purchases to get their guns. it's an important law enforcement measure across the political spectrum law enforcement supports it. let's stand with law enforcement and vote aye. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. please take conversations off the floor. the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i move to reconsider the last vote. lay it on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. so ordered. the senator's time has expired. the senator from texas is recognized. mr. cruz: i rise to speak against this amendment. it is worthwhile to strengthen the protections against straw purchasing and trafficking, but, unfortunately, this language in my judgment is overbroad and in particular has a real risk of criminalizing innocent conduct. for example, if you're father asks you to purchase a firearm for him and your father pays
4:47pm
you, under this bill both you and your father become felons. because it bans any purchase for another person if that individual pays for it. in my judgment, that is overbroad, and that is the reason why in the prior amendment we changed the language to target bad actors and to exclude innocent conduct, to envoid -- avoid ensharing law-abiding citizens with no ill will and to inadvertently make law-abiding gun owners into felons. i urge a no vote on this amendment. the presiding officer: the question is on the amendment. is there a sufficient second? is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
4:48pm
4:49pm
4:50pm
4:51pm
4:52pm
4:53pm
4:54pm
4:55pm
4:56pm
4:57pm
4:58pm
4:59pm

Terms of Use (10 Mar 2001)